Inflammation of the sclera, the tough, white, outer covering of the eye
- More common in females
- May run in families if associated with rheumatoid arthritis
- Age and lifestyle are not significant factors
Scleritis is a rare, serious condition in which the sclera (the white outer coat of the eye) becomes inflamed. The condition is more common in women and is frequently associated with inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The main symptoms are severe pain in the eye, redness of the white of the eye, and excessive watering. If scleritis is linked with rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience repeated attacks. Rarely, severe cases of scleritis may cause perforation of the sclera and blindness in the affected eye.
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Mild cases may need only anti-inflammatory eyedrops (see Drugs acting on the eye), but if rheumatoid arthritis is the cause, drug treatment for the arthritis can help both conditions.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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