Tuesday, Feb 1, 2022 by Nisha Gupta, MD

This month’s topic will be scleritis.

What is scleritis and what causes it?

Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, the white part of the eye, and the thin tissue overlying it. This condition can affect one or both eyes and can be caused by infection or an eye injury. Many cases are associated with an underlying condition affecting the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases.

What are the symptoms?

Usually, the eye is red and has a violet hue that can affect all or part of the eye. Scleritis is usually painful with a deep pain that develops over a few days. It may also cause blurry vision, tearing and sensitivity to light. When scleritis affects the front part of the eye, there can be inflammation or findings on the cornea. When it affects the back of the eye, the optic nerve may be swollen or the blood vessels in the retina may be inflamed.

If the scleritis is associated with a condition affecting the body, there will symptoms of that condition as well. For example, someone with lupus may have a rash or inflammation of tissues surrounding the heart.

What are the treatments?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often the first line of treatment. Some doctors may prescribe steroid eye drops or pills as well. Stronger medications or surgery may be required for more complicated and advanced cases. Laboratory testing is often done to find a cause in the body for scleritis. If an underlying condition is found, that needs to be treated in order to control the eye symptoms. Without treatment, the scleritis may lead to permanent vision changes or vision loss.

Remember, there are many causes for red eyes. Make sure to see an ophthalmologist for any new symptoms and get treatment if necessary.

Return next month for a discussion on a new topic!

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