Does gout affect the eye?

Updated: Jan 26, 2021
  • Author: Bruce M Rothschild, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The folklore surrounding gout has also involved the eye, and before the 20th century, a myriad of common and unusual ocular symptoms were falsely ascribed to gout. Medical science has since documented eye involvement as a rare but definite aspect of gout. All manifestations of gout in the eye are secondary to deposition of urate crystals within the ocular tissue. [89, 90]

Tophi have been described in the eyelids. [91, 92, 93] Conjunctival nodules containing needlelike crystals have been described within the interpalpebral areas, sometimes associated with a mild marginal keratitis. Band keratopathy with refractile, yellow crystals in the deep corneal epithelial cells and at the level of the Bowman membrane are not uncommon. [94]

Blurring of vision from the corneal haze or a foreign body sensation due to epithelial breakdown may occur. Gout rarely can be associated with anterior uveitis; Duke-Elder mentions this as a cause of hemorrhagic iritis in his classic Text Book of Ophthalmology. Scleritis and tendinitis have also been described. Besides the cornea, the iris, anterior chamber, lens, and sclera have been found to harbor urate crystals; on postmortem examination, urate crystals have also been found in tarsal cartilage and in the tendons of extraocular muscles. [89, 90]

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