What is scleritis?

What is scleritis?

12 August 2022

The sclera is the white, protective outer layer of the eye, which is connected to the muscles that help move the eye. Approximately 83% of the surface of the eye is the sclera.

Inflammation of the sclera, which causes redness, is called scleritis. This condition can be very painful. It is understood to be the result of an overreaction of the body's immune system. The type of scleritis depends on the location of the inflammation.

Timely treatment with medication is necessary to prevent the inflammation from progressing. Severe untreated cases can lead to partial or total loss of vision.

The main symptom of scleritis is severe eye pain that does not respond to painkillers. Occasionally, eye movements worsen the pain, which may spread over the entire face, especially on the side of the affected eye.

Other symptoms may include:

  • excessive tearing
  • decreased vision
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light, or photophobia
  • redness of the sclera


During the diagnosis of scleritis, the ophthalmologist will look at the inside and outside of the eye with a special microscope called a slit lamp:

  • look at the inside and outside of the eye with a special microscope called a slit lamp;
  • ask about your general health.


If necessary, the ophthalmologist may refer you to a rheumatologist (an expert in autoimmune diseases) for a definitive diagnosis. Blood tests, imaging studies or other tests may be necessary.

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