Scleritis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, the white part of the eye. It is an uncommon and serious disease of the eye. Signs and symptoms of scleritis include pain, redness, tearing, light sensitivity (photophobia), tenderness of the eye, and vision disturbances. The pain of scleritis is usually severe. The eye may be tender to the touch. The pain may be severe enough to awaken you from sleep. The white of the eye may take on a bluish discoloration or a violet tinge. The inflammation may be present in one or both eyes and may spread to other structures of the eye. Although there may be tear production, there is typically no eye discharge associated with scleritis.

Causes of scleritis

About half of cases of scleritis are associated with an underlying disease, including autoimmune diseases, connective tissue diseases, or diseases of the vascular system. Underlying diseases that can cause scleritis include systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, gouty arthritis, polymyositis, psoriatic arthritis, polyarteritis nodosa, mixed connective tissue disease, progressive systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), Wegener's granulomatosis, giant cell arteritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections are other potential causes of scleritis. Scleritis can also be the result of trauma or injury to the eye.

Other scleritis symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.