Scleritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the sclera, which is the white area of your eye. The sclera is made from connective tissue and its role is to protect your eye and provide structure. Scleritis can affect the front or back of the sclera, but the front is most commonly affected. When scleritis does affect the back of the sclera, complications such as retinal detachment and glaucoma can occur. Here's what you need to know about scleritis:
There's not always an identifiable cause when a person develops scleritis, but a history of eye surgery and certain bacterial and viral infections such as shingles can leave you at an increased risk of developing the condition. It's also associated with underlying autoimmune disease, so if you have any of the following conditions you are susceptible to developing scleritis:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren's syndrome
Scleritis can affect one or both eyes and typically causes the following symptoms:
- Severe pain in your eyeball and pain around your eye socket
- Red patches on the white of your eye
- Watery eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision or vision loss
Diagnosis And Treatment
Your optometrist can diagnose scleritis by using a slit lamp and microscope to view each part of your eye. If the sclera is inflamed, they will refer you for blood tests to rule out infections and autoimmune diseases. If you've already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you should see your specialist as they may wish to review your immunosuppressant medication, which can help dampen down the inflammation in your eye.
In addition to bringing any associated health conditions under control, treatment will focus on reducing localised inflammation and pain. Your optometrist may suggest you complete a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets or oral steroids, and they will liaise with your GP to ensure these medications are suitable for you. Eye drops can also be used to relieve pressure in your eye, which can reduce pain, but it can take some time for your eye to return to normal. Once you've experienced one episode of scleritis you will likely experience another in the future. Prompt treatment can minimise complications such as retinal detachment, so be vigilant and have regular eye exams to enable your optometrist to spot early signs of scleritis.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms of scleritis, schedule an appointment with someone like Bay Optical as soon as possible.