Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease. However, rheumatoid arthritis occasionally affects other parts of the body — including the eyes.
Eye conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Dry eyes. Generally, preservative-free artificial tears can ease the discomfort of dry eyes. It's important to note that dry eyes also can be a symptom of Sjogren's syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that's often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Inflammation of the interior of the eye (uveitis). Uveitis may cause eye redness and pain, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
- Inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye (episcleritis). Episcleritis may cause sudden eye discomfort or redness.
- Inflammation of the white part of the eye (scleritis). Scleritis is usually characterized by constant, severe eye pain and tenderness.
- Glaucoma. Depending on the type of glaucoma, signs and symptoms may include gradual vision loss, eye pain or blurred vision.
- Cataracts. Several factors may lead to clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye (cataracts), including inflammation within the eye and long-term use of corticosteroid medications often prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Signs and symptoms may include cloudy, blurred or dim vision.