Rheumatic diseases don’t just affect the joints; they can attack many different body parts, including the eyes. Save your vision by bringing any of the following symptoms to your doctor’s attention.
Eyes that burn, itch or feel gritty could point to Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune attack on the body’s moisture- producing glands. About half of people living with Sjögren’s also have another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or lupus.
Bloodshot eyes that are accompanied by pain, light sensitivity or blurred vision may be a sign of uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Though it is linked to many kinds of infections and rheumatic diseases, uveitis is most closely associated with ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and juvenile arthritis, and it may cause vision loss if left untreated.
Pain that is accompanied by tearing, sensitivity to light or redness that doesn’t go away with the use of over-the counter drops like tetrahydrozoline (Visine) could signal scleritis, inflammation of the eye’s whitish outer layer. This condition, which is associated with RA, is most commonly seen in adults ages 40 to 70.