Understand the Link to Gout and Eye Issues to Avoid Complications

Understand the Link to Gout and Eye Issues to Avoid Complications

Gout and Eye Problems

Is there a connection between gout and eye problems? Although this condition affects primarily the joints, it is possible that the uric acid excess can build in other tissues as well, including the eyes. How does this happened and how you can eye complications be prevented ?

The Stages of Gout

There are three stages. In the first stage, the high uric acid levels are detected in the blood, and there are no symptoms. This condition may be stable over time, and some people will never experience symptoms, while others may develop kidney stones before experiencing the first attack of gout in the joints.

During the second stage, the uric acid crystals are formed, typically in the big toe (less often in other joints). After a gouty attack, the affected joint will feel and look normal. Later on, the following attacks may become more severe, last longer and involve multiple joints.

In the third stage, the symptoms may become more persistent, and in some cases would never go away. Nodules called tophi can develop under the skin, in the cartilages of the ear, or the connective tissues around the joints (ligaments, tendons) and other organs. This stage is uncommon if the condition is treated early with medication and dietary changes. Although rare, tophi can also form in the eyes, too.


There is a very little research about how gout affects the eyes, although there are some documented case reports of gout sufferers who suffer from eye complications. For example, a 2003 research paper describes a case of a patient who had an orbital mass. This 2 cm mass was removed surgically, and further investigations revealed this mass was made of uric acid crystals. Another study featured in 2013 in “International Journal of Ophthalmology “evaluated possible eye complications in 380 participants who had been diagnosed with gout. The scientists confirmed that gout can indeed cause eye complications, especially deposits of tophi in various  locations (in the conjunctiva, cornea, iris, sclera , lens and other eye tissues) , the formation of transparent vesicles and bleeding  in the subconjunctival space)  and vascular changes.


How to Prevent Eye Complications

The best way to manage any symptoms of gout (including eye problems) is to keep healthy levels of uric acid in the blood. This goal can be achieved with medication and make dietary changes. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan for acute attacks and maintenance.

You should limit or even avoid foods that are high in purine (for example anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines, and scallops asparagus, organ meats like kidneys, liver and brain, dried beans, mushroom). Choose more often complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fewer refined carbs from white bread and cakes. Limit foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup such as soft drinks. Drink plenty of water because it will help you remove the uric acid from the body, while avoid alcohol (which increase the uric acid in the blood).

If you need to lose some extra pounds, do so, but be careful, and use a combination of exercise and a healthy diet. Avoid crash diets or low carb diets-they  can trigger problems because there is a risk of ketosis (a condition that can increase the uric acid in the blood).


NIAMS (Questions and Answers about Gout)

Nature.com (Uric Acid Crystals Presenting as an Orbital Mass)

NCBI (Characteristics of ocular abnormalities in gout patients)

Mayo Clinic (Gout diet: what’s allowed, what’s not)

Brenda VantaBrenda Vanta

Dr. Brindusa (Brenda) Vanta received her MD from Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine, Romania, and her HD diploma from Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Her main focuses are nutrition and homeopathy.

Jan 20, 2015
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