A patient recently came to our office with a very painful and red eye. He thought he was suffering from an eye infection like “pink eye” or Conjunctivitis.
Upon questioning the patient about his medical history and medications and completing an examination, it became apparent that there was no infection.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Scleritis and Dry Eyes
Our patient has Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), an inflammatory disease that damages the connective tissue covering the ends of joint bones.
Some patients with RA develop Scleritis, which is characterized by swelling, redness, and pain in the white of the eye. Others experience the discomfort of dry eyes, which can lead to infections and corneal scarring.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Uveitis
But what about the patient who came to us with what he thought was an eye infection? He actually has Uveitis, a condition that occurs when the uvea (the layer of tissue between the retina and sclera) becomes inflamed.
The symptoms he described to us include:
- eye pain
- light sensitivity
- blurry vision
These symptoms are all consistent with the diagnosis of Uveitis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Glaucoma and Cataracts
It is also important to note that steroid medications which are used in treating RA can increase the incidence of Glaucoma and Cataracts.
If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, we suggest that you schedule regular visits with your Ophthalmologist or Eye MD. If you’re located in central New Jersey, click here to request an appointment with Dr. Scharfman.
Always remember — not all red eyes are the result of an infection.
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