Scleritis

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are the complications of scleritis?

Complications of scleritis include inflammation of the cornea (keratitis), anterior or posterior uveitis, glaucoma, cataract, retinal swelling, scleral thinning, peripheral corneal shinning, and retinal macular swelling.

Corneal or scleral thinning, if untreated, may lead to a hole in the side of the eye (ocular perforation) and severe vision loss or blindness. Scleritis may be recurrent. Long-term treatment with corticosteroid eye drops may itself cause cataract and glaucoma.

What is the prognosis for scleritis?

Scleritis is a serious eye disease which must be evaluated, treated, and monitored aggressively to avoid vision loss. Scleritis may be recurrent, but is usually responsive to therapy. It is critical that any underlying disease be diagnosed and treated. Many of the conditions associated with scleritis are serious and may only be diagnosed during the evaluation for the cause of the scleritis. The scleritis itself may respond to treatment, but the underlying disease process may not.

In general, scleritis in association with Wegener's granulomatosis is difficult to treat and may lead to vision loss even with treatment. The scleritis seen with the spondyloarthropathies is usually very responsive to treatment. Scleritis that occurs in the absence of an underlying disease will typically respond well to treatment. When recurrent scleritis symptoms are noticed, urgent treatment can result in optimal outcome.

Can scleritis be prevented?

Scleritis is an inflammation of the white of the eye. It is a serious eye disease which is often associated with underlying autoimmune disorders. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is essential in preventing permanent vision loss. There is no preventive treatment for most cases. Patients with underlying disease processes should be made aware of the possibility of scleritis occurring and should have access to immediate care and careful monitoring by an ophthalmologist.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2016
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