Arthritis is known as a disease that affects the joints. However, arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, and even the eyes.
The most common eye problem for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is dry eyes. Eye dryness might seem like a relatively minor problem, but eye lubrication plays an important role in preventing eye infection. If left untreated, eye dryness not only increases the risk of infection, but can also lead to damage of the cornea, the “lens cap” of the eye that helps the eye focus.
Dry eyes is also a symptom of Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that’s often associated with RA.
Glaucoma refers to a collection of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, and cause vision loss by leading to a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Any inflammatory form of arthritis can cause inflammation of the valve that controls the vitreous humor, the fluid inside the eye. When the eye fluid is not properly controlled, increased pressure damages the optic nerve, and results in vision loss.
Although in its early stages, glaucoma is symptomless, as it progresses it often causes eye pain, blurred vision, blank spots in the field of vision, and rainbow-colored halos around lights.
In its early stages, glaucoma can be treated with eyedrops that reduce pressure in the eye. In more advanced cases, surgery may be required.
Regular eye exams are important for early diagnosis of glaucoma, and is particularly important for those who have inflammatory arthritis.
Inflammation in the eye can also cause cataracts, a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts cause blurred vision, poor night vision, and seeing halos around lights. Untreated, cataracts lead to vision loss. Cataracts are treated with surgery, which replaces the cloudy lens with a clear one.
Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, the whites of the eyes. RA can cause the sclera to thin out, making them prone to severe damage when sustaining even slight trauma.
If eye redness does not go away with the use of over-the-counter eyedrops, or if a person experiences severe eye pain or sensitivity to light in addition to eye redness, they may have scleritis.
Scleritis may be controlled with corticosteroid eyedrops. However, if inflammation is out of control, it cannot be treated locally. Keeping inflammation well-managed is critical to avoiding scleritis.
The uvea is the part of the eye that gives it its color. It is responsible for supplying nutrients to the eye, and absorbing outside light.
Uveitis, inflammation of the uvea, causes pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. If uncontrolled, it can lead to vision loss.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients, including those with arthritis. We have years of experience helping seniors with arthritis, and pride ourselves in our ability to maintain the health of people with any of the various forms of arthritis. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.
We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.
Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.
We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.
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