Blurry vision from rheumatoid arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Blurred vision can develop as a result of a number of problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the most feared is scleritis. Scleritis, a chronic inflammation of the blood vessels in the whites of the eyes, occurs in about 1 percent of people with RA. Symptoms include eye pain and redness. If it goes untreated, scleritis may lead to deterioration of the cornea. Scleritis may occur as:

• Anterior uveitis
• Posterior uveitis

Lens involvement of the eye may occur with subcapsular cataracts.

Elevated Intraocular pressure and secondary glaucoma can develop.

Both cataracts and glaucoma can be induced by steroids which are often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

People with RA are also at increased risk for Sjögren's syndrome.

Dry eyes are a symptom of Sjögren's syndrome, a chronic condition that occurs when the body's immune system attacks secretion-producing glands, including the tear glands. Symptoms include a burning, gritty feeling. If not treated, dryness can lead to eye infections and damage to the cornea.

Antimalarial medications have been found to reduce pain and inflammation in some people who have rheumatoid arthritis. They are considered to be disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS).

Most people experience no major side effects from antimalarial drugs. The most serious side effect, which is rare, is damage to the eye that may cause irreversible vision damage.

Antimalarial medications may cause blurred vision and difficulty focusing.

This treatment is generally well-tolerated and requires no routine laboratory monitoring, although an initial eye exam is required. Routine eye exams by an opthalmologist to examine the retina are recommended at least every 6 to 12 months.

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