While “osteoarthritis” is largely caused by wear and tear that primarily affects the joints, “rheumatoid arthritis” (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can exert its inflammatory effects over various parts of the body, including the eyes. For instance, RA is often associated with “keratitis sicca” (“dry eye syndrome”), which refers to any condition that decreases moisture in the eyes. In addition, while cataracts are most often associated with older individuals, inflammatory forms of arthritis make cataracts more likely to occur at any age. Inflammatory forms of arthritis can also lead to glaucoma as a result of increased pressure of the fluid in the eye, which causes nerve damage. These are all reasons for RA patients to undergo regular eye exams.
P.S. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk for “scleritis,” inflammation of the “sclera,” the white outer coating of the eye.