Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dry Eye

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you could also have Dry Eye Syndrome. In this blog, we’ll answer all of your questions about the two conditions.


Can rheumatoid arthritis affect your eyes?

Yes! Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes joints to be painful, swollen and stiff. It primarily affects hands, feet and wrists.[1] However, the inflammation can also affect other parts of the body, including the eyes.[2]

The same antibodies that attack your joints can harm your eyes, preventing tear production and causing dry eyes.[3] Inflammation of the eyes can even change the composition of tears.[4]

Some of the medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can also cause eye problems.[5] For example, hydroxychloroquine can cause retinopathy, an inflammatory disease of the retina that can lead to vision impairment or loss.[6] Prednisone can also cause cataracts or glaucoma.[7]


Cropped shot unhealthy female massage hand with wrist pain and dry eye, rheumatoid arthritis.


How common is Dry Eye in rheumatoid arthritis?

Did you know Dry Eye Syndrome is the most common eye condition in people with rheumatoid arthritis?[8] In a study published in the journal, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 44% of rheumatoid arthritis patients had Dry Eye Syndrome.[9] If you have both conditions, you’re not alone!


What helps dry eyes from rheumatoid arthritis?

Eye drops and gels can help you to manage your dry eyes. To find out whether you should opt for eye drops or eye gel for dry eyes, read this useful resource: Eye Drops vs Eye Gel for the Treatment of Dry Eyes

For more information about conditions related to dry eyes, visit our blog: 6 Conditions that Cause Dry Eye.


In most cases, the best way to treat dry eyes, Also known as dry eye syndrome, is to use eye gel or eye drops.

VisuXL Gel® is a preservative-free smart gel lubricant for dry eye syndrome. It provides comfort in a bottle with it’s long-lasting lubrication properties giving 12-hour dosing with just one drop and is suitable for both day and night use.

VisuXL® is a preservative-free eye drop lubricant for dry eye syndrome. Due to its unique ingredients, VisuXL® will help you recover from eye surgery, an injury or persistent damaging dry eye.

VisuEvo® is a preservative-free eye drop that prevents excessive evaporation of the tear film. Its unique formula contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, Vitamins A and D and ultra-filtered phospholipids that facilitate tear film presentation and control evaporation.

All three products are contact lens-friendly and can be used for 180 days after opening.

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  1. NHS, ‘Overview: Rheumatoid arthritis’, 08/03/2023. Accessed May 2023.
  2. NHS, ‘Symptoms: Rheumatoid arthritis’, 08/03/2023. Accessed May 2023.
  3. Arthritis Foundation, ‘Dry Eyes and Arthritis’. Accessed May 2023.
  4. WebMD, ‘Dry Eye and Inflammation’, 09/05/2022. Accessed May 2023.
  5. Everyday Health, ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Eyes: What You Need to Know’, 03/03/2023. Accessed May 2023.
  6. Lotery, A., Burdon, M. ‘Monitoring for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy’, Eye, 2020, 34(8), 1301-1302. Accessed May 2023.
  7. Boyd, K. ‘What Are Steroid Tablets?’, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 02/12/2022. Accessed May 2023.
  8. Tayler M. Schwartz, SCB et al. ‘Ocular Involvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis’, American Academy of Ophthalmology, EyeNet Magazine, 11/2016. Accessed May 2023.
  9. Wong Yumori, J. ‘Prevalence of Dry Eye Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients’, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 06/2015, 56(7). Accessed May 2023.
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