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I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis for over 30 years. Lately when I wake up in the morning my right eye is difficult to open. Do you think this problem is related to my arthritis?
Jul 20, 2011

This is a most interesting question. The eye symptoms are very suggestive of Rheumatoid Episcleritis, which is one of the extra articular manifestations of RA and this is why the condition should be called rheumatoid disease rather than arthritis as features occur external the joints.

The symptoms in the eyes can vary from being a minor nuisance to very distressing pain in the eye. Initially the feeling of being full of sand or grittiness is an early manifestation of episcleritis. Sometimes the eye symptoms may be related to dry eyes, absence of tears or a reduction in tear formation in what is called the SICCA syndrome. This occurs in up to 30% of patients with RA.

More severe conditions can affect the eye in RA but these would not present with a feeling of sand, which is mainly related to a conjunctival lesion.

I would be reasonably certain that this condition is related to the arthritis. Do go and see your family doctor, who will probably prescribe eye drops or an eye ointment Very rarely an infection is responsible. If this is the case, you should see an eye specialist.

To answer the question directly, I think it is very likely that this feeling in the eye is related to the arthritis. The prognosis is very good with the usual significant reduction in the symptoms with effective treatment.

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This information has been provided by Arthritis Ireland, Ireland's only arthritis charity enabling people with arthritis to take their lives back