The cause is usually unknown.
Symptoms include eye redness, swelling, and irritation.
Episcleritis goes away on its own, but corticosteroid eye drops may make symptoms go away quicker.
An Inside Look at the Eye
(See also Overview of Conjunctival and Scleral Disorders Overview of Conjunctival and Scleral Disorders The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the eyelid and loops back to cover the sclera (the tough white fiber layer covering the eye), right up to the edge of the cornea (the clear layer in... read more .)
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 Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory connective tissue disorder that can involve joints, kidneys, skin, mucous membranes, and blood vessel walls. Problems in the... read more or rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis in which joints, usually including those of the hands and feet, are inflamed, resulting in swelling, pain, and often destruction of joints.... read more ) or who have had shingles of the forehead and eye Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is a reactivated infection of the eye caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. Symptoms include pain and tingling of the... read more .
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
Sometimes corticosteroid eye drops or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by mouth
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.