Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body’s own immune system attacks your healthy cells by mistake^1^. It causes swelling and redness, usually in the joints and tendons^2^ but it can also affect other parts of your body, including the eyes^3^.
When rheumatoid arthritis affects your eyes, it can make them dry and they may feel dehydrated and gritty. In rare cases, rheumatoid arthritis can also cause two serious eye conditions called scleritis and uveitis^3^.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis and experience persistent dry eyes, pain, swelling, redness, blurred vision or floaters, you should talk to an eye care professional, your GP or your rheumatologist for advice and treatment as soon as possible.
Sjögren’s syndrome is usually treated with lubricant eye drops, but surgery is sometimes needed^4^. Maintaining good eye hygiene is also important if you have Sjögren’s syndrome as the condition can make you more likely to develop eye infections^5^.
Scleritis is usually treated with drugs that reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system^6^. The main treatment for uveitis is steroid medication (corticosteroids), which can reduce swelling inside the eye^7^.
1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000431.htm [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
3. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Rheumatoid-arthritis/Pages/Complications.aspx [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
4. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/q-and-a/symptoms/does-ra-cause-dry-eyes.aspx [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
5. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Sjogrens-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
6. The College of optometrists, Clinical Management Guidelines: Scleritis. Available at: http://www.college-optometrists.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm/docid/205F6E8F-A882-4697-8B2D281F476F850D [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
7. http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/condition/uveitis [Last accessed 20.10.2016]
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