What is episcleritis and scleritis?

Episcleritis and Scleritis
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Scleritis: Overview

The sclera is the white of the eye. It is a fibrous covering that makes up much of the globe of the eye. The sclera protects the eye's inner parts.

Scleritis means that the sclera is inflamed. The inflammation is what makes the white of the eye look red, or sometimes purple.

Pain from scleritis is usually severe and is worse at night. The pain can spread to your face and jaw. Scleritis can make your eyes sensitive to light. It can also affect your vision. In more severe cases, it can lead to loss of vision.

Scleritis is often caused by another medical problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes an eye infection is the cause.

To find out if you have scleritis, your doctor checks your vision. Your doctor carefully examines your eyes. Your doctor also asks about other symptoms like joint pain or fevers. You may have tests and X-rays to look for medical problems that can cause scleritis. When scleritis is in the back of the eye, it can be harder to diagnose.

Treatment focuses on reducing the inflammation. Your doctor may give you a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). If the problem is severe, a steroid medicine may help. You may also need medicine to treat the cause, such as an antibiotic for infection or medicine for immune system problems.

With treatment, scleritis can sometimes go away in a few weeks. But it can last longer, even years.

How can you care for scleritis?

  • Be safe with medicines. Use your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If you are using eyedrops or ointment, be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean. To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your doctor tells you it's safe to use them again.
  • Wear sunglasses to help relieve pain from bright light.
  • See your doctor for checkups as often as scheduled.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.