Rheumatologic Eye Disease

About Rheumatologic Eye Problems

Rheumatologic diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Sjorgrens can also affect the eyes. The same inflammation that damages the joints can also cause inflammation in the cornea, sclera, iris, and retina. These patients are also more prone to developing cataracts and glaucoma, so a yearly medical eye exam is important especially if they are on Prednisone or Plaquenil.

Other eye conditions can be exacerbated by rheumatologic diseases. These include:

Keratitis Sicca (also called Dry Eye Syndrome). The eye, for several reasons (including the consumption of certain medications or damage to tear-producing glands), is unable to maintain a healthy film of tears. It affects those with Sjorgrens Syndrome the most but can be seen in varying degrees with any rheumatologic disease.

Dry eye syndrome is the most common ophthalmic manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis and women are nine times more commonly affected than men.

Scleritis is inflammation of the sclera or the white part of the eye. Conditions like RA can cause the eye wall, which is the sclera, or the cornea, to become thin and that’s concerning because minor trauma could cause that part of the eyeball to split open. One may notice redness that doesn’t go away with the use of over-the-counter eye drops, sensitivity to light, and perhaps reduced vision.

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the vascular layer of the eye, which is sandwiched between the retina and the sclera. It causes eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. If not controlled, uveitis can lead to vision loss.

Retinal Vascular Occlusion in when small blood vessels that feed the retina, or light-sensing layer of the eye, become blocked or backed up, akin to what happens during a heart attack or stroke. One will notice vision loss, like a curtain coming over the eye. If an artery is blocked, loss of vision may happen suddenly and come and go. If a vein is backed up, vision loss may be more gradual. It mostly affects those with lupus and scleroderma. If you have any of the above symptoms or are concerned about your eye health due to a rheumatologic condition then call our office today to schedule a consultation!