Treatments for Eye Conditions Caused by Arthritis

Dr. Russel Lazarus, August 22, 2021

Over 25% of all adults are diagnosed with this inflammatory disease.

Arthritis is generally associated with joint inflammation and pain, but this condition can also affect your eyes and vision.

There are many successful treatments for eye conditions due to arthritis.

Dry eye syndrome

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Sjogren’s syndrome are the two primary types of arthritis that can lead to dry eye syndrome.

If left untreated, severe dry eye can lead to corneal scarring and infection, as well as other complications.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome:

  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • A feeling of something stuck in your eye


Medication to control arthritis is the most effective option to improve dry eye symptoms.

If dry eye is a side effect of your arthritis medication, speak to your doctor about switching to a different medication, lowering your dose, or including artificial tears into your daily regimen.


Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to thinning of the sclera (the white part of the eye) or the cornea.

Symptoms of scleritis:

  • Severe pain
  • Redness that doesn’t subside with eye drops
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision


The most effective treatment to treat dry eye symptoms is to keep the RA under control.

Corticosteroid eye drops may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation.

Many times intense dry eye treatments are required as the inflammation from scleritis is so severe that topical eye drops are ineffective in reducing inflammation. These treatments include in-office devices available at dry eye specialists.


This condition occurs when the uvea, the vascular layer of the eye located between the retina and sclera, becomes inflamed.

Uveitis symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity


A corticosteroid eye drop is generally prescribed to keep inflammation under control.

An oral steroid or a steroid that is injected directly into the eye may be recommended as well if the topical steroids are ineffective.

SEE RELATED: Can Arthritis Affect the Eyes?

If you have arthritis, contact an eye doctor near you to discuss the options for the treatment of any visual issues.

Find an eye doctor near you

Retinal Vascular Occlusion (RVO)

This condition, also known as an ‘eye stroke’, occurs when the arteries or blood vessels of the retina become blocked or backed up as a result of inflammation.

RVO symptoms:

  • Sudden vision loss
  • Occasional vision loss
  • Gradual vision loss

The vision loss associated with RVO is dependent on whether the artery is blocked or backed up.


If the blood flow in the artery is backed up, retinal laser surgery can be performed to reduce inflammation and restore vision.

When an artery becomes blocked, the damage and vision loss may be permanent.


Glaucoma causes optic nerve damage and permanent vision loss. Glaucoma can also develop when corticosteroids are used to treat arthritis.

Glaucoma symptoms:

  • Eye Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Blind spots
  • Halos around bright lights


If you are using steroids to control inflammation, it is important to have frequent eye exams to prevent side effects from your medication.

Glaucoma treatment typically involves medicated eye drops that help to reduce the eye pressure. Surgery to improve fluid drainage and decrease eye pressure may be recommended if eye drops are ineffective.

The best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma is to have regular eye exams. Early detection of glaucoma will enable early treatment and increase your chances for optimal results.


A cataract is the clouding of the eyes’ naturally transparent lens.

Cataract symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear less vibrant


Cataract surgery is recommended when blurred vision is affecting quality of life. Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Eye Health 

If you have arthritis, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you— even if you haven’t noticed any changes to your vision.

If you have arthritis and suffer with any visual issues, your eye doctor can diagnose the cause and provide a range of successful options.