Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means it’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. As the NHS explains, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakenly sends antibodies to the lining of your joints, where they attack the tissue surrounding the joint.
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When this happens, it often produces a range of painful symptoms associated with the joints.
The most commonly reported symptoms are joint pain and stiffness.
As well as problems affecting the joints, some people with rheumatoid arthritis have more general symptoms.
One less obvious sign is dry eyes.
According to the NHS, dry eyes associated with rheumatoid arthritis is the result of inflammation.
“Dry eyes can also be a symptom of Sjogren’s syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that’s often associated with rheumatoid arthritis,” Mayo Clinic explains.
More rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the white part (sclera) of your eyes, which can result in redness and pain, notes the health site.
How to get a diagnosis
See a GP if you have these symptoms so they can try to determine the cause.
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“A GP will do a physical examination, checking your joints for any swelling and to assess how easily they move,” explains the NHS.
The GP will also ask you about your symptoms.
As the NHS explains, if the GP thinks you have rheumatoid arthritis, they’ll refer you to a specialist (rheumatologist).
It is worth noting that if you are already diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and experience eye pain, vision changes or other eye problems, consult an ophthalmologist for an evaluation, advises Mayo Clinic.
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“Early treatment can help prevent vision-threatening complications,” says the health body.
Can it be cured?
There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but early treatment and support can reduce the risk of joint damage and limit the impact of the condition.
Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes, supportive treatments and surgery.
There are also a number of self-tips to help you manage rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), a balanced, nutritious diet consisting of the recommended amounts of all the food groups helps promote wellness and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Losing weight is critical because excess weight puts extra strain on your joints.
This also underlines the importance of exercising regularly to maintain your overall health, including easing rheumatoid arthritis.
“Even when you don’t have time to exercise, try to make movement part of your everyday routine,” adds the AF.
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