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Arthritis and Your Eyes

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When it comes to arthritis, joint pain and inflammation are typically the first things that come to mind. While these are the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA), other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), can also affect your eyes.

Types of Arthritis

One of the most common types of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), produces joint discomfort due to long-term wear and tear.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can affect anyone, at any age. Autoimmune illnesses cause your body to attack healthy tissues in your body, sometimes including your eyes.

Other forms of inflammatory arthritis that can cause eye problems include:

  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • reactive arthritis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

How Does Arthritis Affect the Eye?

The connective tissue that covers the ends of joint bones is damaged by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Collagen is the most common component of connective tissue and is the main component of the sclera and cornea of the eye.

Keratitis sicca, also known as dry eye syndrome, is the most common eye condition caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Sjogren’s syndrome also causes dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes can’t maintain a healthy film due to inadequate tears or poor-quality tears. The tear film not only lubricates the eye; it also protects it from foreign particles and is essential for clear vision.

If your RA is causing dry eye syndrome you may experience blurry vision, dryness and perhaps the feeling of having something in your eye. Unless treated, this condition may lead to corneal scarring and infection.

Other eye conditions associated with arthritis include:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal Vascular Occlusion
  • Scleritis
  • Uveitis

How to Control and Treat Inflammation to Protect Your Vision

If you have arthritis and notice eye problems or changes in your vision, it may mean you have inflammation in your eyes. To treat eye inflammation, you must first address the arthritis inflammation affecting your body as a whole.

Controlling the underlying inflammation with arthritis drugs may provide some relief for patients with dry eye syndrome. However, you may still require a topical salve, artificial tears or an immunosuppressive eye drop to keep your eyes moist. Another approach is to use tear duct plugs.

Dryness caused by medications may be relieved by switching to another medication or lowering the dose, or by using artificial tears.

The first step toward relieving your dry eye symptoms or inflammation is contacting your eye doctor, who can determine the underlying problem during a comprehensive eye exam and discuss ways to treat it.

Whether or not you have arthritis, diagnosing and treating eye problems early can help prevent vision loss. Speak with your eye doctor regularly or as they recommend to protect your sight.

If you have arthritis and are experiencing visions or other eye problems, schedule an eye exam at James Tracey Eye Care in Woodcliff Lake and Midland Park.

At James Tracey Eye Care, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 201-746-6700 or book an appointment online to see one of our Woodcliff Lake eye doctors.

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