What happens when Ra attacks the eyes?

Answered by Cody Janus

When rheumatoid arthritis (RA) attacks the eyes, it can lead to a variety of symptoms and complications. One of the most common eye-related symptoms of RA is dryness. Personally, I have experienced this symptom and it can be quite uncomfortable.

Dry eyes occur when the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the surface of the eye lubricated. This can make the eyes feel gritty, itchy, and irritated. In severe cases, it can even cause a burning sensation. I remember feeling like I constantly had something in my eyes, and it was difficult to find relief.

The dryness of the eyes in RA is often due to inflammation in the tear glands. The immune system, which is overactive in RA, mistakenly attacks the tear glands causing them to become inflamed and produce fewer tears. This can lead to a decrease in the quality and quantity of tears, resulting in dry eyes.

One of the challenges of having dry eyes is that they are more prone to infection. Tears play an important role in protecting the eyes from bacteria and other irritants. When the eyes are dry, this protective barrier is compromised, making it easier for infections to occur. I personally developed a few eye infections during periods when my dry eye symptoms were particularly severe.

If left untreated, severe dry eyes can cause damage to the cornea. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface of the eye that helps with focusing. When the cornea becomes dry, it can develop small abrasions or ulcers, which can be quite painful. I remember experiencing sharp pain and sensitivity to light when I had corneal damage.

To manage dry eyes caused by RA, there are a few treatment options available. Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can help provide temporary relief and keep the eyes moist. I found these drops to be quite helpful in alleviating the dryness and discomfort. In some cases, prescription medications, such as cyclosporine eye drops, may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and increase tear production.

In addition to using eye drops, it’s important to take steps to minimize dryness. This can include using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, avoiding smoke and windy environments, and taking regular breaks from activities that require intense focus, such as reading or using a computer. I personally found that these lifestyle changes helped to alleviate my symptoms to some extent.

When RA attacks the eyes, dryness is a common symptom that can cause discomfort and potential complications. It is important to seek appropriate treatment and management strategies to prevent further damage to the eyes. With proper care, it is possible to alleviate dry eye symptoms and maintain good eye health despite the challenges of living with RA.