RHEUMATOID arthritis mainly affect the joints but the symptoms do not stop there. Occasionally, eye problems can signal the joint condition, which include the sensation of sand in the eye.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the main types of arthritis in the UK. “In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling,” explains the NHS.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis extend beyond joint complaints, however.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the eyes, the most common symptom being dry eye syndrome, according to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (nras).
“About 15 percent of the normal population have dry eyes, but in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, the percentage is much higher – some studies quote 40 percent,” says the health body.
The most common symptom is a gritty sensation in the eye or a feeling of “sand in the eye” or paradoxically a “watery eye”, it adds.
Other possible eye-related symptoms include:
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Eye dryness
- Blurred vision
- Dry/gritty feeling in eyes
- Sensitivity to light.
How to respond
“See a GP if you think you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so they can try to identify the underlying cause,” advises the NHS.
As the health body points out, diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important, because early treatment can prevent it getting worse and reduce the risk of joint damage.
“It’s important to tell the GP about all your symptoms, not just ones you think are important, as this will help them make the correct diagnosis.”
How to treat rheumatoid arthritis
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are proven ways to alleviate the symptoms and improve quality of life.
According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), a balanced, nutritious diet consisting of the recommended amounts of all the food groups helps promote wellness and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to managing arthritis because it eases the pressure placed on joints.
Exercise can aid weight loss while providing direct benefits for rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Eye redness is another eye-related symptom
Research shows that exercise helps to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and improve day-to-day functioning.
Aquatic exercises are particularly beneficial for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.
As the AF explains, aquatic exercises are especially gentle on painful joints because water helps to support your weight, which reduces joint stress, and exercising in warm water helps to reduce stiffness.
“Water also provides a natural resistance so you can get an aerobic and strengthening workout,” it adds.
Studies show that both yoga and tai chi have great benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine deep breathing, gentle, flowing movement, poses and meditation.
As the NHS points out, you should find the best activities and the right balance for you.
“It’s usually best to increase the amount of exercise you do gradually,” it says.