(See also Overview of Conjunctival and Scleral Disorders.)
Episcleritis occurs in young adults and affects women more often than men. Usually, the inflammation affects only a small patch of the eyeball and causes a red, and sometimes slightly yellow, raised area. The condition is not usually a sign of any other disease but sometimes occurs in people who have body-wide inflammatory diseases (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) or who have had shingles of the forehead and eye.
Additional symptoms include eye tenderness and irritation, with slightly increased watering of the eye and mildly increased sensitivity to bright light. The condition tends to disappear and may recur. The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and on the appearance of the eye.
Treatment of episcleritis is often unnecessary. Eye drops that constrict blood vessels of the eye, such as tetrahydrozoline, can temporarily decrease the redness. However, these drops should be used only on special occasions because regular use leads to even more redness (called a rebound effect).
To treat an attack, corticosteroid eye drops or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug taken by mouth can be used to make symptoms go away quicker.