Medical Q&As

Episcleritis - prevent recurrence?

For the last year, my eye has become red and painful every two to three months. I was referred to a specialist who diagnosed episcleritis. She mentioned that it could be related to other inflammatory conditions in the body. Could you explain what these conditions could be and also if there is anything I can do to avoid another recurrence?

Episcleritis presents as an acute redness in the eye. It can be confused with conjunctivitis but in the case of episcleritis only a sector of the white of the eye becomes injected. Sometimes small nodules may be present in the centre of the injected area. The cornea is spared from the acute inflammatory reaction and remains clear. The condition is relatively benign and occurs for no known reason in the majority of cases. However, as the specialist has indicated it can occur in association with systemic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, inflammatory bowel disease, sarcoidosis, polyarteritis nodosa, gout and herpes zoster infection. The inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are the two diseases most commonly associated with episcleritis but again I stress that most people develop the condition for no known reason. The majority of cases of episcleritis resolve spontaneously without treatment. This recovery can take approximately two to three weeks. More severe cases may require treatment with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and possibly topical steroids but again this is not usually required. Since most cases of episcleritis occur for no known reason it cannot be prevented.