Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term joint condition that affects around 400,000 people in the UK.
It’s an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system accidentally attacks the healthy lining of the joints.
The condition can lead to swelling, joint pain and having warm, red skin over the affected areas.
You could also be at risk of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms if you have sore, red eyes, it’s been revealed.
Some rheumatoid arthritis patients develop painful, inflamed red eyes, said the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS).
It’s caused by a swelling in the white part of the eye – known as the sclera.
The condition is known as scleritis, and can cause patients to wake up in the night in pain.
“Rheumatoid arthritis affects not only the joints but has extra-articular [outside the joints] manifestations as well,” said NRAS.
“About a quarter of people affected by rheumatoid arthritis have eye problems as a result. The incidence and severity being worse with longer duration of the disease.
“Less commonly, about one in 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis may experience a painful, red eye due to inflammation of the ‘white part of the eye’ called the sclera.
“Scleritis is painful, often waking up the patient at night and potentially sight-threatening.
“It requires prompt referral to the eye specialist. Treatment is with oral steroids and/or steroid-sparing agents.”
One of the more common eye reactions to rheumatoid arthritis is having dry eyes.
Almost half of all patients develop dry eyes, said the charity. It makes the eyes feel gritty, and like there’s sand trapped in the eye.
The symptoms are usually worse during the evening or after sleep, and they’re exacerbated when in air-conditioned rooms or cars.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients are at risk of some long-term medical conditions.
Widespread inflammation is a common complication of rheumatoid arthritis, and is likely to affect the lungs, heart, eyes, and blood vessels.
Spotting the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis early is crucial, as early treatment could limit the risk of complications.
People most at risk of rheumatoid arthritis include women and smokers.
Those with a family history of the condition could also have a higher chance of developing the arthritis.