MSD Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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What is scleritis?

The sclera is the tough, white outer layer of your eye. Scleritis is severe, painful inflammation of the sclera.

  • It can happen in one or both eyes and in part or all of the sclera

  • Severe scleritis can destroy your sclera and damage your vision

  • Scleritis sometimes happens if you have certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, or have had eye surgery for another eye problem or certain eye infections

  • Scleritis is most common in women ages 30 to 50

  • You may have a deep, painful ache in one or both of your eyes

  • Doctors will give you corticosteroids and medicines to treat your immune system

Parts of the Eye

Parts of the Eye

What are the symptoms of scleritis?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in your eye that feels like a deep ache and doesn’t go away—it can keep you awake at night

  • Eye tenderness

  • Redness or purple color over part or all of the white part of your eye

  • Watery eye

  • Blurry vision

  • Sensitivity to bright light

Severe scleritis can lead to other serious eye problems that may affect your eyesight such as cataracts and glaucoma. Rarely, scleritis can cause a small hole (perforation) in the eyeball.

How can doctors tell if I have scleritis?

Doctors will ask you about your symptoms and do an eye exam.

If doctors think the back part of your eye is inflamed, they may need to do tests to get a better view. They may do:

How do doctors treat scleritis?

Doctors will:

  • Have you take an anti-inflammatory pain medicine, such as ibuprofen

  • Give you corticosteroid pills or sometimes by injection into the sclera

  • Give you medicine to treat your immune system if you have an autoimmune disease

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