My eye doctor is a Disease Detective: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Inflammatory diseases

Eye Doctor Disease Detective

Inflammation is your body’s appropriate response to an injury or infection in order to heal. This normal process becomes a problem when an overreaction of the immune system produces excessive inflammation without a specific cause leading to chronic inflammatory diseases. Some of these diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and lupus. While often these conditions have other symptoms, occasionally signs in the eye could be the first clue to systemic inflammation throughout the body.

Possible symptoms related to inflammation:

  • Repeated red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain in the eyes

What does your doctor see?

  • Episcleritis or Scleritis: one or more episodes of red eyes related to inflammation (not infection) could be associated with a systemic inflammatory condition
  • Uveitis: inflammation of the front and or back of the eye, often associated with pain and light sensitivity
  • Retinal findings: these can include inflammation surrounding the blood vessels that supply the retina or inflammatory cells within the vitreous gel of the eye

What to do if you have some of these symptoms?

Make sure to visit your optometrist to have your eyes evaluated. It is important to rule out many other causes of red eyes, blurry vision, and pain in the eyes. If your doctor suspects a systemic inflammatory cause, they may send a letter to your primary care doctor or a rheumatologist for additional blood work or work-up to rule out potential causes.

To book an appointment, call 954-726-0204 or book online at any time!


Dr. Brianna Rhue
Dr. Brianna Rhue
FAAO Board Certified Optometric Physician
West Broward Eyecare Associates
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