Scleritis is a painful and potentially blinding inflammatory disease of the white covering of the eye, known as the sclera. There are 3 known types of sceritis: (i) diffuse scleritis (being the most common type), (ii) nodular scleritis and (iii) necrotizing scleritis (the most severe form).
Scleritis is commonly associated with systemic autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Wegener granulomatosis, polyarteritis nodosa, relapsing polychondritis, spondyloarthropathies and giant cell arteritis. Scleritis may be the initial symptom of these potentially serious conditions, and the early diagnosis and appropriate systemic therapy can help stop the progression of both eye and systemic complications.
What Are The Symptoms Of Scleritis?
Symptoms of scleritis include:
• Redness of the sclera and conjunctiva
• Increased tearing
• Pain in the affected eye. This pain may radiate to the temple or jaw and can be severe enough to disturb sleep.
• Increased sensitivity to light
• Blurred vision, potentially leading to blindness
How Is Scleritis Diagnosed?
Scleritis is diagnosed clinically by examining the eye. Retracting the eyelids allows for determining the extent of scleral involvement. Visual acuity assessment as well as assessment for systemic disease should also be performed. Your eye doctor may also refer you to the appropriate specialist (eg. rheumatologist, internal medicine physician, haematologist) for further assessment and treatment.
How Is Scleritis Treated?
Depending on the severity of scleritis, a variety of treatments may be used.
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
• Oral corticosteroids
• Immunosupressive drugs (such as cyclophosphamide or azathioprine)
• Monoclonal antibodies which affect specific parts of the inflammatory parthways
• Surgery may be done for diagnostic biopsy or to address complications of scleritis
Image: By Kribz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.