What is scleritis?

Scleritis is a condition where the sclera is significantly inflamed and reddened. The sclera is a protective exterior eye layer. It is linked to muscles that allow eye movement.

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The condition can cause significant discomfort. It is believed to be due to the overreaction of the immune system. The type of scleritis that develops is based on the site of inflammation. Most suffer from intense pain but there are some exceptions.

Prompt treatment using medications is needed to prevent the condition from progressing. Cases that are serious and left untreated can result to partial or full vision loss.

What are the indications?

For every type of scleritis, it can trigger similar symptoms that can worsen if not treated. Significant eye pain that poorly responds to pain medications is the main indication of scleritis.

Eye movements can worsen the pain. The pain can spread all over the face especially on the side of the affected eye.

Other symptoms that might arise include:

scleritis
Significant eye pain that poorly responds to pain medications is the main indication of scleritis.
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • Diminished vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reddening of the sclera

Risk factors

Scleritis can develop at any age. Take note that women are more likely to develop it than men.

The risk is increased if the following are present:

  • Eye infections
  • Damage to the eye tissues from trauma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Wegener’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

Management

The treatment for scleritis is aimed on dealing with the inflammation before it can cause lasting damage. The pain is also linked to inflammation, thus reducing the swelling will help reduce the symptoms.

A stepladder approach is used. If the initial step in the medication fails to work, the second measure is used. The medications that are used to manage scleritis include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these are often used for nodular anterior scleritis to reduce the inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid pills might be given if NSAIDs could not reduce the inflammation
  • Oral glucocorticoids for posterior scleritis
  • Immunosuppressive drugs with oral glucocorticoids
  • Antibiotics might be given to prevent or treat infections of the sclera
  • Antifungal medications for infections due to Sjogren’s syndrome

In severe cases of scleritis, surgery might be required. The procedure involves the repair of the scleral tissues to improve muscle function and prevent visual loss.

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