ARTHRITIS AND MACULAR DEGENERATION MAY BE RELATED By Dr. Martha Jay, Ophthalmologist at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin
Two common conditions that increase in frequency with age are rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration of the eyes. A recent study in the medical journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science indicates that the two may be linked.
The medical claims of almost 75,000 patients over the age of 64 years-old were analyzed over a 5 year period. Those with the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis were found to have a 91% chance of also carrying the diagnosis of macular degeneration. Those without rheumatoid arthritis were also likely to have macular degeneration, but only at a rate of 83%. This was statistically significant, meaning very unlikely to be due to chance. Remember that macular degeneration is leading cause for legal blindness for those over 65 years-old in the U.S.
Why or how could these seemingly disparate conditions, one involving the joints and the other the eyes, be related? While nothing can be proven by this study, the common link may be inflammation. We have long recommended that macular degeneration patients takes the AREDS2 vitamin supplements since a large study a number years ago indicated that it decreased the risk of transitioning from the mild “dry” form of the condition to the aggressive “wet” form. They contain antioxidants that theoretically protect the eye from the damages of aging. Perhaps they may also be found to aid in rheumatoid arthritis, only further studies can tell.
The good news for those with both rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration is that the association was with the milder “dry” form. For now, be sure to have regular eye examinations especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis and/or macular degeneration.
Dr. Martha Jay is a comprehensive Ophthalmologist (Eye Physician & Surgeon) practicing with Dr. Lisa Bennett and Dr. James Ivanoski at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin. She specialized in medical and surgical eye care such as small incision cataract surgery and blade-free LASIK.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedical.com.