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Eye
Eye


Scleritis

Definition:

Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera (the white outer wall of the eye).



Alternative Names:

Inflammation - sclera



Causes:

Inflammation of the sclera is often linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus . Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Scleritis occurs most often in people between the ages of 30 and 60. It is rare in children.



Symptoms:

Symptoms of scleritis include:

A rare form of this disease causes no eye pain or redness.



Exams and Tests:

Your health care provider will perform the following tests:

  • Eye exam
  • Physical exam and blood tests to look for conditions that may be causing the problem

It is important for your provider to determine if you have scleritis or a less severe form of inflammation, such as episcleritis.



Treatment:

Treatments for scleritis may include:

  • Corticosteroid eye drops to help reduce the inflammation
  • Corticosteroid pills
  • Newer, nonsteroid anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs in some cases
  • Certain anti-cancer drugs (immune-suppressants) for severe cases

If scleritis is caused by an underlying disease, treatment of that disease may be needed.



Outlook (Prognosis):

In most cases, the condition goes away with treatment. But it may come back.

The disorder causing scleritis may be serious. However, it may not be discovered the first time you have the problem. The outcome will depend on the specific disorder.



Possible Complications:

Complications may include:

  • Return of scleritis
  • Side effects of long-term corticosteroid therapy
  • Perforation of the eyeball, leading to vision loss if the condition is left untreated


When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you have symptoms of scleritis.



Prevention:

Most cases cannot be prevented.

People with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may need to have regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist familiar with the condition.



References:

Watson P. Diseases of the sclera and episclera. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 4, chap 23.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.




Review Date: 9/2/2014
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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