4 Ways That Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Eyes

17 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog


If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you already know that this autoimmune condition causes pain and swelling in your joints. It happens when your immune system attacks the linings of your joints. Surprisingly, this condition can also have serious effects on your eyes. Here are four eye conditions that people with rheumatoid arthritis should be concerned about. 

Dry Eyes

Everyone has dry eyes occasionally, but for many people with rheumatoid arthritis, this dryness is an everyday feeling. Dry eyes are the most common eye problem that people with rheumatoid arthritis face. This happens because the surface of the eye becomes inflamed, which interferes with the function of your tear glands. The result is a very dry, painful eye that needs to be treated with artificial tears. 


The sclera is the medical term for the whites of your eyes, and this tissue isn't immune to the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.The whites of your eyes are made of collagen, which is the same tissue that lines the insides of your joints. For this reason, the sclera can become inflamed and painful. You'll have red, painful eyes, and may feel like you have a piece of sand or an eyelash stuck in your eye. This condition, called scleritis, can be treated with corticosteroid eye drops to get rid of the inflammation. 


Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that causes high pressure to build up inside your eye. This high pressure damages the tissues that make up your eye, which can lead to serious problems like blindness. This disease can occur as a side effect of one of the medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, steroids. Steroids are used to reduce inflammation in your joints and ease your symptoms, but they can also lead to glaucoma. Make sure to tell your optometrist that you're taking steroids and have your eye pressure checked regularly.


The lens of your eye, called the cornea, focuses light as it enters your eye and is essential for sight. The cornea can become clouded over, which prevents light from getting into the eye, and leads to blindness. This cloudiness is a cataract, and it can be caused by steroids, just like glaucoma. If you develop a cataract, it will need to be surgically removed to restore your vision. 

Rheumatoid arthritis can wreak havoc on your joints, but other parts of your body can be affected too, like your eyes. If you notice any of these problems, see your ophthamologist, like those at Blink Eyewear Eyewear Calgary, right away.