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Ophthalmology. 2012 Jan;119(1):43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.07.013. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

Clinical characteristics of a large cohort of patients with scleritis and episcleritis.

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Institute Clinic of Ophthalmology, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



To evaluate the demographic characteristics, clinical features, ocular complications, and disease associations of patients with scleritis and episcleritis; as well as to delineate the risk factors for decreased vision in patients with scleritis.


Retrospective case series.


Five hundred patients with scleritis and 85 patients with episcleritis.


The electronic health records of 500 patients with scleritis and 85 patients with episcleritis seen at 2 tertiary referral centers were reviewed and their clinical features were studied.


Clinical features (pain, scleral inflammation), ocular complications (decrease in vision, anterior uveitis, peripheral ulcerative keratitis, ocular hypertension), and disease associations.


In a series of 585 patients, 500 patients had scleritis (85.5%) and 85 patients had episcleritis (14.2%). Ocular complications were more frequent overall in patients with scleritis versus in those with episcleritis (45.0% vs. 19.0%), including decrease in vision (15.8% vs. 2.3%), anterior uveitis (26.4% vs. 16.5%), peripheral ulcerative keratitis (7.4% vs. 0%), and ocular hypertension (14.2% vs. 3.5%; P<0.0001 for each). Disease association was observed in 35.8% of patients with scleritis versus 27.1% of episcleritis patients, including connective tissue or vasculitic diseases in 24.8% versus 15.3%, respectively. Scleritis preceded systemic disease diagnosis in 38.7% of patients. Ocular complications (90.0%) and disease association (80.0%) occurred most often in patients with necrotizing scleritis (P<0.0001 for each). Risk factors for decrease in vision in patients with scleritis included necrotizing scleritis (odds ratio [OR], 6.63; P<0.001), posterior scleritis (OR, 2.33; P = 0.042), degree of scleral inflammation of more than 2+ (range, 0-4+; OR, 3.60; P<0.001), anterior uveitis (OR, 1.78; P = 0.033), ocular hypertension (OR, 3.19; P<0.001), and associated disease (OR, 2.66; P<0.001), mainly infectious (OR, 4.44; P<0.001).


Scleritis is associated more often with ocular complications than episcleritis, and necrotizing scleritis is the type of scleritis most often associated with ocular complications and disease association. Risk factors for decrease in vision in patients with scleritis include necrotizing scleritis, posterior scleritis, scleral inflammation of more than 2+, anterior uveitis, ocular hypertension, and associated infectious disease.


The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

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