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Do Dry Eyes Point to Arthritis, Diabetes, or Other Health Risks?

Posted by Dr. Danny P. Malone on Mar 16, 2016 8:30:00 AM

I really like the quote: “The eye is like a microcosm of the entire body within a small little ball.” This quote is from Dr. Sunir J. Garg in the article “6 Ways Arthritis Can Affect Your Eyes on the Arthritis Foundation website. 

My Perspective on Your Health

As an optometrist, I spend most of my day peering into my patients’ eyes and their overall health is presented to me within that “small little ball.” So I can see the impact of arthritis and diabetes as well as other health risks. For example, you can read about Sjögren’s Syndrome vs. Dry Eyes on my blog. 

Based on that perspective, I can advise you to seek testing and diagnosis for these significant health risks if you haven’t already been diagnosed. 

While on the subject, let’s examine the impact of arthritis and diabetes on your vision. We will also touch on other risks to your vision that can be caused by arthritis and diabetes.

Arthritis

arthritisRheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joints but also impacts the eye, particularly the white of the eye (sclera) and the cornea. For example, scleritis, which is inflammation of the white part due to thinning of the sclera, can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis. There are also other possible problems including glaucoma and cataracts.

What is also prevalent is that the medications used to treat this can cause dry eye syndrome and other eye health problems. Given all this, if you suffer from arthritis it’s important to take care of not only your joint pain but also the health of your eyes. 

Diabetes

In my practice whenever someone tells me they are diabetic, I always check for dry eye. Diabetes can also cause cataracts, retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular edema, but more than half of people with it also have dry eye. 

As just one example of the impact of diabetes, dry eyes can be caused by peripheral neuropathy where the nerves on the cornea disrupt the feedback to the tear ducts that normally tells them to produce more tears. In addition, many of the medications taken to treat diabetes can have side effects causing dry eye. 

Treatments

While we won’t be treating the underlying condition of arthritis or diabetes, we can alleviate dry eyes. Starting out we’ll use simple salt solutions to supplement the tears. There are many different types of drops that can be tried to best match each individual’s condition. 

We also have eye gel preparations that can help. Plus, there are eye ointments that are thicker and greasier, but stay in the eye much longer. It is best to use these at night as they can cloud vision during the day. 

If the symptoms are not alleviated through drops or other approaches, we can surgically insert plugs into the tear ducts, preventing the tears from draining away. There are temporary options, some which dissolve over time and others that can be removed. If the condition dictates, there are also permanent plugs.

Can Vision Source Plano Diagnose Arthritis or Diabetes?

No, that’s not our specialty, but we can help identify health risks and we most definitely can help alleviate the effects of dry eye no matter the source.

In my 30+ years treating dry eye, I’ve worked with many, many patients to bring them relief and develop a long term treatment program.

The first step is to give us a call at 972-612-2099.

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Guide to Choosing the Perfect Optometrist

Topics: arthritis, diabetes, dry eye