Rheumatoid Arthritis Increases Your Risk Of Vision Damage

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If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you probably know that it's caused by your body's immune system attacking healthy cells and creating inflammation. Unfortunately, having an auto-immune disorder increases your risk of acquiring other auto-immune diseases, like uveitis. Uveitis is an auto-immune disease that creates inflammation in the eye which can cause vision damage, pain, and blindness.

Inflammation Damage In Your Eyes

Uveitis damages the eyes in the same way that rheumatoid arthritis damages your joints: your overly aggressive immune systems attacks healthy cells, creating inflammation and damaging tissue. Instead of damaging the joints, uveitis can affect many parts of the eye, including the iris, choroid, ciliary body or the entire eye. Uveitis can strike at any age, as children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis sometimes get uveitis as well.

Symptoms And Side Effects

Inflammation produced by uveitis can cause a variety of symptoms and diseases. Initial symptoms of uveitis usually include blurred vision, floaters, and light sensitivity. The disease isn't always painful, but it can be, in which case the eyes may appear red.

Uveitis can increase your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, retinal swelling or cornea clouding. Left untreated, these disorders can result in vision damage or blindness.

What To Do About It

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should visit an eye doctor to have your eyes thoroughly examined for signs of inflammation. If no inflammation is found, regular checkups are a good idea so that if uveitis develops you catch it quickly and begin treatment.

If your eye doctor does find signs of uveitis, your doctor will prescribe medications to reduce the inflammation in the eye. In most cases, this will be a steroid eye drop that you put directly into your eyes on a daily basis to reduce the inflammatory response. In more severe cases, they may prescribe an oral medication or injection to keep the inflammation under control and prevent further tissue damage. By reducing inflammation, your chances of getting a secondary eye disease is reduced.

If your eye doctor prescribes medication, make sure to set a schedule around taking it. Missing doses can result in a flare-up of inflammation, and you can't double a dose after missing one to make up for it. Every time inflammation builds up in your eye, it puts your vision at risk, so try to make medicating your eyes your first priority every day.

While no cure currently exists for uveitis, keeping your symptoms under control, by visiting an eye doctor such as Kirks' Eye Center, will improve your chances of maintaining healthy eyesight.