General Practice 2022

Rheumatism can also affect the eyes

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Rheumatism can also affect the eyes
Rheumatism can also affect the eyes

Dry, red, swollen eyes and a feeling of sand in the eyes are common symptoms of diseases such as conjunctivitis or uveitis. However, these signs and symptoms can also indicate another type of disease that affects the joints and blood vessels, rheumatic diseases such as lupus, Sjogren's syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, at any stage of life.

Usually rheumatic diseases are discovered through specific exams, but the ophthalmologist may suspect that the person has this type of disease through the eye fundus exam, an exam that shows exactly the state of the optic nerve, the veins and arteries that supply the eyes, indicating the he alth of these structures. And if these small blood vessels are compromised, it is possible that others are too and therefore the ophthalmologist may indicate that the person seeks a rheumatologist.

7 Rheumatological diseases that can affect the eyes

Some rheumatologic diseases that may have ocular manifestations are:

1 - Rheumatoid, Psoriatic and Juvenile Arthritis

Arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints, which can have several causes that are not always fully known, can also affect the eyes, causing changes such as conjunctivitis, scleritis and uveitis. In addition to the disease itself having implications for the eye, medicines such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can have side effects that manifest themselves in the eyes and therefore it is necessary for the person who has arthritis to have an eye examination every six months. Know how to identify and treat rheumatoid arthritis.

2 - Lupus Erythematosus

People with lupus are at greater risk of dry eye syndrome, which manifests itself through symptoms such as burning and pain in the eyes, itching, feeling of sand in the eyes and dry eyes.In addition to the disease itself being able to affect the eyes, corticosteroid medications used in the treatment of Lupus can also have side effects on the eyes, which can cause dry eye syndrome, cataracts and glaucoma.

3 - Sjogren's Syndrome

It is a disease where the body itself attacks the cells that produce saliva and tears, leaving the mouth and eyes very dry, and dry eye syndrome is common, which increases the risk of chronic conjunctivitis. The person always has dry, red eyes, is sensitive to light and the feeling of sand in the eyes can be frequent.

4 - Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is a disease where there is inflammation in the tissues, including the eyes causing uveitis usually in just 1 eye. The eye can become red and swollen and if the disease lasts for months the other eye can also be affected, with a greater risk of corneal complications and cataracts.

5 - Beh├žet Syndrome

It is a very rare disease in Brazil, characterized by inflammation in the blood vessels, which is usually diagnosed in adolescence, but which can seriously affect the eyes causing uveitis with pus in both eyes and inflammation in the optic nerve. Treatment can be with immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, cyclosporine A and cyclophosphamide to control symptoms.

6 - Polymyalgia rheumatica

It is a disease characterized by pain in the shoulders, back and difficulty in moving due to stiffness in the hip and shoulder joint, with a common complaint of pain throughout the body. When the ocular arteries are involved, blurred vision, double vision and even blindness can occur, which can affect only one or both eyes.

7 - Reiter's Syndrome

It is a type of arthritis that causes pain and inflammation in the joints but can also cause inflammation in the whites of the eyes and eyelids, leading to conjunctivitis or uveitis, for example.

Although it is more common for a person to discover rheumatic disease first, it is possible that eye involvement may indicate the presence of rheumatic diseases. But to reach this diagnosis it is necessary to carry out a series of tests such as x-rays of the joints, MRI and a genetic test to identify the rheumatoid factor, for example.

How to treat eye complications caused by rheumatism

Treatment for eye diseases that are directly related to rheumatologic diseases should be guided by the ophthalmologist and rheumatologist and may include the use of medicines, eye drops and ointments to apply to the eyes.

When these diseases occur due to the side effect of medication, the doctor may indicate that it be replaced by another one to improve the quality of the person's vision, but sometimes, it is enough to treat the rheumatological disease for the symptoms to improve eyepieces.

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