Thursday, February 9, 2023

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis cause Eye Swelling?

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissue.


One of the common symptoms of RA is swollen and painful joints, including those in the eyes. Periorbital edema, or swelling of the eyelid, can be a sign of RA and may be accompanied by other eye-related symptoms, such as redness, dryness, and blurred vision.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Eyes?

The RA can affect the eyes by attacking the synovial membrane that lines the joints and helps to lubricate them. When the synovial membrane becomes inflamed, it can cause the joints to become swollen and painful. This inflammation can also affect the eyes, leading to swollen eyelids and other symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dry Eye Syndrome

Patients suffering from RA have a high probability of developing dry eyes, a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate quickly. Symptoms like redness, irritation, and burning may occur in the eyes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Scleritis

Scleritis, an inflammation of the white part of the eye (the sclera), is another eye-related complication of RA. It can cause severe pain and redness in the eye and can result in vision loss if left untreated.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Uveitis

Inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (the uvea) is called uveitis, which is a complication of RA. It results in pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Optic Neuritis

There is a high probability of RA causing optic neuritis, which results in vision loss. The symptoms of optic neuritis include sudden vision loss, eye pain, and sensitivity to light.


  • Medical History: In order to know about your symptoms, your doctor is going to ask about your joint pain and stiffness. They will also inquire about any other medical conditions and medications you are taking.
  • Physical Exam: Doctors will examine your joints for swelling, warmth, redness, and tenderness. They will also examine your eyes for swelling, redness, and discharge.
  • Blood Tests: Inflammation can be measured by the doctor through blood tests. A Rheumatoid Factor (RF) test and an Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) test may be recommended.
  • Imaging Tests: To get a clear image of your joints and to detect any damage or changes, x-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds may be used.


  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to slow the progression of RA and prevent joint damage.
  • Eye Drops: To reduce the swelling and redness in case of RA, your doctor may prescribe you eye drops.
  • Physical Therapy: Increased mobility and better joint functionality are possible with physical therapy. Exercises and stretches also help reduce pain and improve your quality of life.
  • Surgery: Severe cases often require surgery to repair damaged joints or to replace them.

Which eye drops are best for swollen eyelids with RA?

Several types of eye drops can treat swollen eyelids caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The most commonly used eye drops are:

  • Artificial Tears: Dry, irritated eyes can be lubricated and moisturized with the help of artificial tears, thus reducing swelling and redness.
  • Anti-inflammatory Eye Drops: Nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac and indomethacin are beneficial for reducing inflammation and swelling.
  • Corticosteroid Eye Drops: To decrease irritation and swelling, you can use corticosteroid eye drops like prednisolone or loteprednol.
  • Vasoconstrictor Eye Drops: Narrowing blood vessels in the eye using vasoconstrictor eye drops such as phenylephrine or naphazoline helps in reducing redness and swelling.

Which surgery is best for swollen eyelids with RA?

Surgical procedures to reduce the swelling of eyelids during RA episodes are recommended once the discomfort, redness, and visual problems caused by the swollen eyelids become intolerable. These are some of the most frequent surgical operations.
  • Blepharoplasty: Removing excess skin and fat from the upper or lower eyelid to reduce the appearance of puffiness and swelling is part of this procedure.
  • Eyelid Lift: An eyelid lift, also called an eyelid tuck, helps reposition the eyelid to reduce the appearance of swelling.
  • Orbital Decompression: Removing bone or tissue from the orbit (the bony socket surrounding the eye) to create more space for the eye and reduce pressure, which can cause swelling and bulging of the eyelid is the procedure.
  • Tarsorrhaphy: Partial stitching of eyelids reduces swelling and is the procedure involved.
  • Lifestyle Changes: There are several lifestyle changes that can help manage Rheumatoid Arthritis and its symptoms in addition to regular medical treatment, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Managing stress

It is important to note that not everyone with swollen eyelids associated with RA will require surgery


Swollen eyelids can be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints and surrounding tissue. If you experience swollen eyelids and any other eye-related symptoms together with joint pain and stiffness.
it is best to see a rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage the symptoms of RA and maintain a healthy visual system.

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