For those living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), achy joints and difficulty moving are just the beginning of the story. From an increased risk of cardiovascular disease to the emotional impact of PsA, balancing your joint health while properly monitoring and treating comorbidities is a lot to consider, and it may require a team of specialists. So you visit the rheumatologist for your joints, a dermatologist for your skin. But how can optometrists and ophthalmologists play a role in your psoriatic disease care?
About 7 percent of those with PsA will develop uveitis (pronounced “you-vee-EYE-tis”), a medical term referring to several different diseases related to inflammation within the eye. The most common form is anterior uveitis, which affects the inner wall of the ciliary body (containing the iris).  This 7 percent figure is much higher than for the general population, which sees a risk of uveitis closer to 0.1 percent. 
The reason for the increased risk is not explicitly clear, according to James Rosenbaum, M.D., a rheumatologist and ophthalmologist at Oregon Health and Science University. He discussed uveitis and the risk to those living with psoriatic disease in a 2019 NPF Psound Bytes™ podcast episode titled “Psoriatic Arthritis and Uveitis: What’s It All About?”
“Why do you get uveitis with (psoriatic) arthritis together? That is a mystery – just [like] getting skin disease and joint disease together,” says Dr. Rosenbaum.
He points out that there are some similarities between your eyes and your joints – like the presence of collagen and hyaluronic acid in both – that could indicate an association between PsA and other parts of the body that do not seem inherently linked. The nature of autoimmune disease – or immune-mediated disease, in the case of psoriasis and PsA – also could be the link to higher risk, as people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis also have a higher risk of uveitis.