How Arthritis Affects Your Eyes

Arthritis is known as a disease that affects the joints. However, arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, and even the eyes.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are the most common eye problem for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). If this seems like a relatively minor problem, consider the fact that eye lubrication plays an important role in preventing eye infection. If left untreated, eye dryness increases the risk of infection. In addition it can also lead to damage of the cornea, the “lens cap” of the eye that helps the eye focus.

Dry eyes is also a symptom of Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that’s associated with RA.


Glaucoma refers to a collection of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, causing vision loss by building up the pressure inside the eye. Any inflammatory form of arthritis can cause inflammation of the valve that controls the vitreous humor, the fluid inside the eye. When the eye fluid is not properly controlled, increased pressure damages the optic nerve, and results in vision loss.

Although in its early stages, glaucoma is symptomless, as it progresses it often causes a variety of symptoms, including eye pain, blurred vision, blank spots in the field of vision, and rainbow-colored halos around lights.

In its early stages, glaucoma can be treated with eyedrops that reduce pressure in the eye. In more advanced cases, surgery may be required.

Regular eye exams are important for early diagnosis of glaucoma, and are particularly important for those who have inflammatory arthritis.


Inflammation in the eye can also cause cataracts, a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts cause blurred vision, poor night vision, and seeing halos around lights. Untreated, cataracts lead to vision loss. Cataracts are treated with surgery, which replaces the cloudy lens with a clear one.


RA can causes scleritis, an inflammation of the sclera, the whites of the eyes. Scleritis causes the sclera to become thin, making them prone to severe damage when sustaining even slight trauma. The most common symptom of scleritis is redness of the whites of the eyes.

If this eye redness does not go away with the use of over-the-counter eyedrops, or if a person experiences severe eye pain or sensitivity to light in addition to eye redness, they may have scleritis.

Scleritis can be controlled with corticosteroid eyedrops. However, if inflammation is out of control, it cannot be treated locally. Keeping inflammation well-managed is critical to avoiding scleritis.


The uvea is the part of the eye that gives it its color. The uvea is responsible for supplying nutrients to the eye and absorbing outside light.

Uveitis, inflammation of the uvea, causes pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. If uncontrolled, it can lead to vision loss.

At Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, we take care of all our clients’ healthcare needs, including arthritis management and ophthalmic care.

Beacon of LIFE is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

We maintain an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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