Episcleritis is irritation and inflammation of the episclera, a thin layer of tissue covering the white part (sclera) of the eye. It occurs without an infection.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Episcleritis is a common condition that is usually mild.
The cause is usually unknown, but it may occur with certain diseases, such as:
Signs and tests
An eye examination can usually diagnose the disorder. No special tests are usually necessary.
The condition usually disappears without treatment in 1 - 2 weeks. Treatment with corticosteroid eye drops may relieve the symptoms faster.
Episcleritis usually improves without treatment. However, treatment may make symptoms go away sooner.
In some cases, the condition may return. Rarely, irritation and inflammation of the white part of the eye may develop. This is called scleritis.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of episcleritis that last for more than 2 weeks. Get checked again if your pain worsens or you lose vision.
Goldstein DA, Tessler HH. Episcleritis and scleritis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.11.
Rosenbaum JT. The Eye and rheumatic diseases. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 46.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.