Psoriatic arthritis, or PsA, is a form of arthritis associated with psoriasis. PsA affects the joints and the areas of the body where tendons and ligaments connect to bones.
The National Psoriasis Foundation states that about 30% of individuals with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis during their lifetime.
Sometimes, people living with PsA may develop eye conditions, which can range from irritation to vision loss.
This article explains how PsA affects the eyes and how to treat and prevent these complications.
One eye condition that people living with PsA may experience is chronic dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Experts believe that about 2.7% of people with PsA have this condition. However, some studies suggest that the number may be as high as 18.75%.
In a person with this condition, the tear ducts lose their ability to produce tears, which are vital for proper lubrication of the eyes. A lack of adequate lubrication increases the risk of eye infections and can damage the cornea.
In cases where over-the-counter artificial tears prove ineffective, prescription eye drops may help increase tear production and lower inflammation. For some people, steroid eye drops may offer short-term relief to control inflammation.
Uveitis is a type of eye inflammation that affects the middle layer of tissue within the eyeball, called the uvea. The symptoms of uveitis include redness in the white parts of the eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, pain, and floaters.
There are four types of uveitis:
- Anterior uveitis: This type involves the front of the eye and can cause inflammation of the iris.
- Intermediate uveitis: This type occurs in the middle of the uvea and involves inflammation of the vitreous.
- Posterior uveitis: Posterior uveitis involves the back of the uvea and can affect the retina.
- Panuveitis: In people with this type, inflammation affects all parts of the eye.
The treatment for uveitis usually starts with corticosteroid eye drops to reduce inflammation. If these do not work, an eye doctor may recommend injecting the eye with a corticosteroid. In cases of infection, an eye specialist may recommend antibiotics.
Cataracts are the result of cloudy films developing over the eye lens, leading to impaired vision. The Arthritis Foundation notes that inflammatory conditions such as PsA may advance the formation of cataracts.
- cloudy vision
- difficulty seeing colors
- increased glare from artificial lights and sunlight
- double vision
- reduced night vision
People with cataracts require surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one.
Glaucoma is the term for a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. It can lead to vision loss.
Chronic inflammation from arthritic conditions, including PsA, can contribute to glaucoma by increasing the pressure in the eyes.
This eye condition has no symptoms in the early stages when it is the most treatable. However, an ophthalmologist may detect it when they are carrying out a regular eye examination.
Symptoms that a person may experience include pain, blurred vision, and seeing blank spots or halos around lights. A doctor may prescribe eye drops to reduce the pressure in the eyes. Some people may require surgery.
Peripheral ulcerative keratitis causes the cornea, which is the transparent outer layer at the front of the eye, to become inflamed, which makes it prone to thinning.
The symptoms of peripheral ulcerative keratitis include:
- reduced vision
- light sensitivity
Artificial tears and antibiotic drops can promote healing and prevent infection.
A person can mitigate the risk of developing PsA-related eye problems by reducing inflammation in the body.
As PsA is an inflammatory condition, a doctor may prescribe medication to control inflammation within the body, improving eye conditions related to PsA.
When to see an ophthalmologist
Anyone with PsA should consider undergoing annual eye examinations and regular doctor visits to discuss any new or existing eye-related symptoms.
Some eye conditions do not have any signs in the beginning stages. Due to this, it is vital to get regular eye checkups to detect any problems as soon as possible.
Living with PsA can be challenging. In addition to the joint pain that PsA can cause, many people may develop related eye problems.
The good news is that many PsA-related eye conditions are highly treatable.
As some conditions do not have early warning signs, an eye examination is the best way to detect any abnormalities. A doctor can help a person manage any symptoms related to PsA and eye health.