Great Answers to Important Questions..
I came across some great information from the Mayo Clinic that I wanted to share. I am providing this information to continue to help dispel the belief that Rheumatoid Arthritis is just about swollen hands and achy joints. This information addresses the impact of RA on the Lungs and Eyes.
Can rheumatoid arthritis affect your lungs?
from April Chang-Miller, M.D.
Although rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects joints, it can also affect your lungs. In fact, lung problems from rheumatoid arthritis sometimes surface before joint problems. The most common lung problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Painful breathing. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleurisy). The inflammation can cause sharp pain while breathing.
- Shortness of breath. Fluid due to inflammation of the lining of the lungs may accumulate around the lungs (pleural effusion). This accumulation can cause shortness of breath.
- Lung nodules. Small lumps may form in the lungs (rheumatoid nodules), as well as in other parts of the body. Lung nodules usually cause no signs or symptoms, and they don’t pose a risk of lung cancer. In some cases, however, a nodule can rupture and cause a collapsed lung.
- Scarring of the lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to scarring within the lungs. Signs and symptoms may include shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite.
Contact your doctor promptly if you have rheumatoid arthritis and experience any unexplained breathing problems. Sometimes treatment is aimed at the underlying rheumatoid arthritis. In other cases, treatment involves medication to suppress the immune system or a procedure to remove fluid from the lungs.
Can rheumatoid arthritis affect the eyes?
from April Chang-Miller, M.D.
Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease. However, rheumatoid arthritis occasionally affects other parts of the body — including the eyes. Eye conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Dry eyes. Generally, preservative-free artificial tears can ease the discomfort of dry eyes. It’s important to note that dry eyes also can be a symptom of Sjogren’s syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that’s often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Inflammation of the interior of the eye (uveitis). Uveitis may cause eye redness and pain, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
- Inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye (episcleritis). Episcleritis may cause sudden eye discomfort or redness.
- Inflammation of the white part of the eye (scleritis). Scleritis is usually characterized by constant, severe eye pain and tenderness. Sometimes the white of the eye takes on the appearance of a deep violet color — deeper than the eye redness typically seen with episcleritis.
- Glaucoma. Inflammation within the eye can affect the eye’s drainage system, ultimately leading to glaucoma — a condition that can result in blindness. Depending on the type of glaucoma, signs and symptoms may include gradual vision loss, eye pain or blurred vision.
- Cataracts. Several factors may lead to clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye (cataracts), including inflammation within the eye and long-term use of corticosteroid medications often prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Signs and symptoms may include cloudy, blurred or dim vision.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis and experience eye pain, vision changes or other eye problems, consult an ophthalmologist for an evaluation. Also consult your rheumatologist. Early treatment can help prevent vision-threatening complications.