Scleritis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the sclera. This is a thin layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye. It results in symptoms such as redness of the eye, pain when moving the eye and in some cases, reduced visual capacity. Scleritis can affect one or both eyes and it is common in young and middle-aged women. It is often as a result of complications of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, leprosy and tuberculosis.
Scleritis can be cured if treatment is started early. It is therefore important to consult an ophthalmologist as soon as indicative symptoms of scleritis begin to appear so that the most appropriate treatment can be started. Drugs such as antibiotics or immunosuppressants may be used as treatment and in some cases, surgery may also be necessary.
Symptoms of scleritis
The main symptom of scleritis is redness of the eye and pain when moving the eyes, that can be so intense such as to interfere with sleep and appetite. Other symptoms of scleritis are:
- Swelling of the eye
- Change from white to yellowish tones in the eye
- The appearance of a painful lump, which may not move
- Decreased vision
- Perforation of the eyeball; being a sign of gravity.
The symptoms of scleritis may not be immediately identified if it affects the back of the eye. This may impair its treatment and prevention of complications.
How the diagnosis is made
Diagnosis is made by an ophthamologist who assesses the symptoms and the eye structure and may also recommend tests such as typical anaestethic instalation, slit lamp biomicroscopy and 10% phenylephrine test.
If not properly treated, scleritis can cause other complications such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, swelling in the optic nerve, changes in the cornea, cataracts, progressive loss of vision and blindness.
Scleritis is mainly due to complications such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, Wegener granulomatosis, recurrent polychondritis, lupus, reactive arthritis, nodosa polyarteritis, ankylosing spondylitis, leprosy, syphilis, Churg-Strauss syndrome and in rarer cases, tuberculosis and hypertension. The disease may also arise after eye surgeries, accidents or presence of foreign bodies in the eye or local infections caused by microorganisms.
How treatment is done
The treatment of scleritis is done under the guidance of an ophthalmologist who indicates the use of medications depending on the cause. These may include recommeding use of antibiotics and immunodepresants.
In cases where complications that cannot be controlled by medications such as cataracts and glaucoma arise, the doctor may recommend surgery. Other diseases that may have caused scleritis such as lupus and tuberculosis should be treated and controlled so as to increase the healing of the eye and prevent the reappearance of the problem.
However, it is important to note that cases of neccrotizing anterior scleritis with inflammation and posterior scleritis are the most severe, with higher chances of loss of vision.