Dry Eyes and Rheumatoid Arthritis

While my joints have been taking a break from the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, my eyes have not. A side effect of RA that isn’t often talked about is dry eyes. Last time I saw my rheumatologist, she ran tests to rule out Sjogren’s Syndrome. My optometrist recommended Restasis (used to help reproduce tears) at my eye exam in October when I complained that I was waking up at night with extremely dry eyes that burned when I added drops. My rheumatologist agreed with this recommendation. Restasis is a prescription eye drop and like many medications we take, it doesn’t work immediately. After a month or two, I expected some relief, but it didn’t happen. At six months, I still wake up with dry burning eyes. My very sweet optometrist spent a lot of time on the phone with me Monday discussing other options. He said that Restasis, like RA meds in general, don’t work for everyone and I should have seen some improvement by now.  So, this week I will be moving on to new options. What works for you?

5 thoughts on “Dry Eyes and Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. carlascorner

    Hi Cathy: I DO have Sjogren's so my eyes (among other things) tend to be very dry. I have been taking a drug called Evoxac (or the generic equivalent cevemeline) for a number of years with great effect and no noticeable side effects. I take 2-3 capsules a day with the last one before I go to bed to be sure I don't wake up with my eyes and mouth dried up and glued shut. It's absolutely the one drug I won't be without. You might talk to your eye/rheumy doctors about it.


  2. Carla, thank you so much for sharing this. I'm going to try the recommendations from eye doc for a month, but if I don't see improvement I will definitely explore this one. Thank you! Thank you!


  3. I have been struggling with treating the very same thing!! Sometimes I can't even close my eyes because they are burning so badly. I cannot explain it. I'm really sorry that Restasis hasn't worked for you 😦 I have tried preservative free eyedrops (I buy them in the little vials) and ALWAYS keep them on me. Probably use them 4-5 times a day. For now, it does the job and at least refreshes them a bit.


  4. Hey Kenzie, thanks for commenting. I've started to do the same thing: preservative free eye drops multiple times a day and adding more fish oil. My doc recommended Eye Promise EZ tears along with the drops. The only problem is after you put your makeup on and you're at work. Blah!


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