Skip to Content

Scleritis

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 11, 2020.

What is Scleritis?

Harvard Health Publications

Scleritis is a potentially serious inflammation of the sclera, commonly called the white of the eye. It is the tough, white tissue that gives the eye its shape and protects the eye. More than 50% of cases of scleritis are associated with another disease that affects the whole body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or are caused by infection or injury. Scleritis occurs most often in people aged 30 to 60 and is rare in children. If left untreated, the condition can spread to parts of other parts of the eye. Some visual loss could then occur.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of scleritis are pain and redness in the white part of the eye. These symptoms usually develop gradually and eventually become severe. The redness may become an intense purple. Many people with scleritis have pain radiating from the eye to adjacent areas of the head and face. Commonly, the eye becomes teary and very sensitive to light. You may lose some vision.

Diagnosis

Your eye doctor will ask you about your medical history and conduct a thorough examination. In addition, because of the association between scleritis and other general medical conditions, your doctor may suggest a comprehensive medical examination, including blood counts and other tests and evaluations. Ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a biopsy may be used to rule out other causes of symptoms.

Expected Duration

Depending on its cause, scleritis should begin to clear up fairly quickly once treatment begins.

Prevention

Scleritis may be prevented by avoiding eye injuries (for example, by wearing protective eyewear) or by having an associated condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis) well-treated.

Treatment

Scleritis should be treated promptly to help avoid complications and vision loss. When related to an underlying disease, treatment of the disease may control the inflammation of the eye. Drugs used to treat scleritis include a corticosteroid solution that you apply directly to your eye, an oral corticosteroid (prednisone) and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Additional immune suppressing medications (such as cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, rituximab, or cyclophosphamide) may be needed for severe cases not responding to corticosteroids or when the required doses of corticosteroids are high. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair injured areas of the eyeball.

When To Call a Professional

You should call your doctor immediately if your eye is painful and red.

Prognosis

Scleritis should be treated promptly to help avoid complications and vision loss. When related to an underlying disease, treatment of the disease may control the inflammation of the eye. Drugs used to treat scleritis include a corticosteroid solution that you apply directly to your eye, an oral corticosteroid (prednisone) and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Additional immune suppressing medications (such as cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, rituximab, or cyclophosphamide) may be needed for severe cases not responding to corticosteroids or when the required doses of corticosteroids are high. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair injured areas of the eyeball.

External resources

American Academy of Ophthalmology
http://www.aao.org/news/eyenet/

National Eye Institute
https://nei.nih.gov/

 


Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Hide