Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?

Can rheumatoid arthritis affect the eyes?

Updated: 08-13-2013

Answer

Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease. However, rheumatoid arthritis occasionally affects other parts of the body — including the eyes.

The most common eye-related symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is dryness. Dry eyes also can be a symptom of Sjogren's syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that's often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

More rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the white part (sclera) of your eyes, which can result in redness and pain. The cornea, the clear membrane that covers the front of your eye, may also become inflamed.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis and experience eye pain, vision changes or other eye problems, consult an ophthalmologist for an evaluation. Early treatment can help prevent vision-threatening complications.