Scleritis: The Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Posted on: 31 August 2015

The white part of your eye, known as the sclera, protects your inner eye and is made from strong connective tissue. When the sclera becomes inflamed, known as scleritis, you can experience serious complications including glaucoma or spontaneous detachment of your retina at the back of your eye. Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatment options for this inflammatory condition:

Causes

Scleritis doesn't always have an identifiable cause, but there are certain conditions that increase your risk of developing scleritis. These conditions include:

  • Bacterial and viral infections that affect your eyes, such as shingles
  • Pre-existing autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Diabetes

Symptoms

Symptoms of scleritis include visual disturbances such as blurred vision, seeing floaters and flashes and heightened sensitivity to light. You'll also experience watery eyes, pain and a sensation of pressure in and round your eye, and you may notice red patches on the sclera. Scleritis can affect one or both eyes, and symptoms may develop gradually, so don't wait until you're experiencing all of the listed symptoms to seek treatment.

Diagnosis And Treatment

An eye test can diagnose scleritis by allowing your optometrist to examine each part of your eye with a slit lamp, which can be used to produce magnified images and show areas of inflammation. Blood tests can be used in conjunction with an eye exam if your optometrist thinks an infection or autoimmune disease could be to blame for your symptoms. If you have a pre-existing autoimmune disease, you should ask your specialist to review your current medication, as adjusting the dose could treat the scleritis without affecting the control of your autoimmune disease.

Your optometrist may also suggest you use painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication to help manage your symptoms and bring the inflammation down quickly. Anti-inflammatory medication isn't always suitable for those with certain autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, so get the approval of your doctor before taking any additional medication.

In addition to oral medication, your optometrist can recommend eye drops to relieve pressure by encouraging efficient drainage of your tear ducts. Relieving a build-up of pressure is vital as too much pressure can cause retinal detachment and permanently damage your vision.

Scleritis is a chronic condition that often recurs, so having regular eye tests and being aware of the symptoms can enable you to seek prompt treatment whenever you experience a flare-up, which can prevent your sight from being damaged.

If you're concerned about your eye health or are overdue an eye exam, schedule an appointment with an optometrist, like those at Bay Optical, as soon as possible. 

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