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Episcleritis

Definition

Episcleritis is irritation and inflammation of the episclera, a thin layer of tissue covering the white part (sclera) of the eye. It is not an infection.

Causes

Episcleritis is a common condition. In most cases the problem is mild and vision is normal.

The cause is often unknown. But, it may occur with certain diseases, such as:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will do an eye exam to diagnose the disorder. Most of the time, no special tests are needed.

Treatment

The condition most often goes away on its own in 1 to 2 weeks. Using corticosteroid eye drops may help ease the symptoms faster.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Episcleritis most often improves without treatment. However, treatment may make symptoms go away sooner.

Possible Complications

In some cases, the condition may return. Rarely, irritation and inflammation of the white part of the eye may develop. This is called scleritis.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of episcleritis that last for more than 2 weeks. Get checked again if your pain gets worse or you have problems with your vision.

References

Goldstein DA, Patel SS, Tessler HH. Episcleritis and scleritis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 4.11.

Watson P. Diseases of the sclera and episclera. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology 2013. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 4;chap 23.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.


Review Date: 9/2/2014
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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