What Is Scleritis?
The sclera is the white part of the eye. When the sclera is swollen, red, tender, or painful (called inflammation), it is called scleritis.
It is common for people with scleritis to have another disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disease. This underlying disease causes many of the symptoms of scleritis.
There are two main types of scleritis:
- anterior scleritis (occurs at the front of the eye)
- posterior uveitis (occurs at the back of the eye)
Anterior scleritis, is more common than posterior scleritis. There are three types of anterior scleritis. The most common can cause redness and irritation throughout the whole sclera and is the most treatable. Another type causes tender nodules (bumps) to appear on the sclera, and the most severe can be very painful and destroy the sclera.
Posterior scleritis is the rarer of the two types. People with this type of scleritis may have pain and tenderness. This form can cause problems resulting in retinal detachment and angle-closure glaucoma.
Some people only have one type of scleritis, but others can have it at the front and back of the eye.
What Causes Scleritis?
Scleritis is often linked with an autoimmune disease. Sometimes there is no known cause. Scleritis may be linked to:
- joint swelling and stiffness (arthritis)
- lupus, or other connective tissue disease
- eye infection
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Sjogren’s syndrome (causes very dry eyes and other symptoms)
Scleritis may be caused by trauma (injury) to the eye. Rarely, it is caused by a fungus or a parasite.
What Are Symptoms of Scleritis?
Scleritis symptoms include:
There also can be pain of the jaw, face, or head. In some cases, people lose some or all of their vision.