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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Scleritis

Inflammation - sclera

Last reviewed: September 3, 2012.

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Inflammation of the sclera is usually associated with 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 and is rare in children.

Symptoms

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

Signs and tests

  • Physical examination and blood tests to look for or rule out underlying causes

Treatment

Corticosteroid eye drops help reduce the inflammation. Sometimes corticosteroids pills are taken by mouth. Newer, nonsteroid anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs may be used in some cases.

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

Expectations (prognosis)

The condition may recur but usually responds to treatment. Scleritis must be distinguished from other forms of inflammation that are less severe, such as episcleritis.

The underlying disorder associated with scleritis may be serious, and may be undiagnosed at the time of the first episode. The outcome depends upon the specific disorder.

Complications

  • Scleritis returns
  • Side effects of long-term corticosteroid therapy
  • Untreated, perforation of the eyeball may occur, leading to vision loss

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you have symptoms of scleritis.

Prevention

There is no preventive treatment for most cases.

Patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may need careful monitoring by an ophthalmologist with experience treating ocular inflammatory diseases.

References

  1. Watson P. Diseases of the sclera and episclera. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane’s Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 23.
  2. Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Review Date: 9/3/2012.

Reviewed by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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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 endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

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 endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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