Episcleritis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that lies between the sclera and the conjunctiva of the eye, causing the eyes to experience redness and discomfort . This inflammation can occur in one eye or both.

The sclera is the white part of the eyeball, while the conjunctiva is the layer that covers it. In contrast to scleritis which attacks the sclera and can cause serious problems, episcleritis is generally classified as a mild health problem and does not cause severe effects.

Causes of Episcleritis

The causes and triggers of the inflammation that occurs in episcleritis are not known with certainty. However, episcleritis is more common in people with the following conditions:

  • Have a systemic disorder, such as lupus, Crohn's disease , or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have an eye injury
  • Taking certain medications, such as topiramate or bisphosphonates
  • Female gender
  • Between 40–50 years old
  • Suffer from a disease caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection, such as shingles on the forehead or eyes
  • Have cancer, such as leukemia or Hodgkin's lymphoma

Symptoms of Episcleritis

Based on the symptoms, episcleritis is divided into two types, namely simple and nodular episcleritis. Here is the explanation:

Simple episcleritis

Simple episcleritis is the more common type of episcleritis. This type of episcleritis is characterized by:

  • Part of the white of the eye is reddish
  • Eyes feel uncomfortable and watery
  • Eyes are more sensitive to bright light
  • Eyes feel hot and feel gritty

Nodular episcleritis

Nodular episcleritis is rare. Symptoms that occur in this type of episcleritis are not much different from simple episcleritis. However, nodular episcleritis is accompanied by a small, painful lump.

The symptoms of episcleritis above appear quickly, but do not cause visual disturbances. Symptoms can occur in one eye or both. If the symptoms of episcleritis appear in both eyes, more attention is needed.

When to see a doctor

Episcleritis usually does not cause serious problems and resolves in a short time. However, if symptoms persist for 2–4 weeks and do not improve, you need to see a doctor.

You are also advised to consult a doctor immediately if the pain is so severe that it affects your vision. This can be a sign of a serious eye problem other than episcleritis.

Diagnosis of Episcleritis

To diagnose episcleritis, initially the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced, medical history, and medications or supplements that the patient is currently or has been taking. Next, the ophthalmologist will perform a thorough eye and physical examination.

Eye examination usually begins by looking at the color of the patient's eyes directly. After that, an examination will usually be carried out using a tool called a slit lamp for a more accurate examination.

The doctor may also perform tests with eye drops to make sure this condition is not caused by another eye disease.

Episcleritis Treatment

Episcleritis generally recovers on its own without the need for treatment, especially if the patient's symptoms are mild. However, if episcleritis is bothersome, your doctor may prescribe eye drops or pain medication to ease the discomfort.

To speed up recovery, there are several ways that patients can do independently at home, namely:

  • Compress the eyes with a towel soaked in cold water
  • Using eye drops containing artificial tears
  • Use goggles when outdoors to protect your eyes from bright light

Episcleritis usually resolves within 7–10 days. However, in cases of nodular episcleritis, recovery may take longer. If episcleritis has not recovered within this time period or even gets worse, control returns to the doctor for further examination.

Episcleritis complications

If not treated properly, episcleritis can lead to several complications such as the following:

  • Recurrent episcleritis
  • Scleritis, especially if the episcleritis is caused by herpes zoster
  • Other inflammations, such as uveitis

Episcleritis Prevention

Because the cause is not known with certainty, episcleritis is difficult to prevent. However, some of the ways below you can do to reduce the risk of developing episcleritis:

  • Check your health regularly if you have conditions that can increase the risk of episcleritis
  • Take steps to prevent infection
  • Do not use any medicines, supplements or herbal products without first consulting a doctor
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