Conjunctival nodule in rheumatoid arthritis

Int Ophthalmol. 2012 Feb;32(1):81-3. doi: 10.1007/s10792-012-9514-8. Epub 2012 Jan 24.


Conjunctival nodule is very rarely seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Previously reported cases were associated with the use of methotrexate. Here, we report a conjunctival rheumatoid nodule without such prior treatment. A 49-year-old woman with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, who was being treated only with oral steroids and hydroxychloroquine, developed diffuse anterior scleritis in the right eye. In addition, examination showed a focal raised yellow/tan conjunctival nodule. The nodule was within the bulbar conjunctiva with no attachments to the underlying tissue, which is different from nodular scleritis. The nodule was not tender on palpation. The patient underwent excisional biopsy of the nodule. Intraoperatively, the lesion was noted to be a firm nodule within substantia propria of the conjunctiva. Hematoxylin-eosin staining of the specimen revealed a central area of necrosis surrounded by palisades of histiocytes. Increased dosage of oral steroid after the biopsy resulted in resolution of the ocular symptoms and signs. In conclusion, rheumatoid nodules may be seen in the conjunctiva even without prior treatment with methotrexate. These nodules may show the severity of the underlying disease and the need for more aggressive treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Biopsy
  • Conjunctiva / pathology*
  • Conjunctival Diseases / drug therapy
  • Conjunctival Diseases / pathology*
  • Conjunctival Diseases / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Rheumatic Nodule / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Nodule / pathology*
  • Rheumatic Nodule / surgery


  • Glucocorticoids