Episcleritis is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the sclera; the sclera is the white part of the eye. When episcleritis is active, all or part of the sclera becomes pink or light red and your eye may feel dry, gritty and irritated. Episcleritis often starts on the outside of the eyes, away from tear ducts on the interior of the eye, since this portion of the eye may receive fewer lubricating tears.
Episcleritis is a chronic condition that comes and goes, although the frequency and duration of the condition varies widely among patients. There are weak causal links to what may trigger the condition out of dormancy, including allergies, heavy computer use, viruses and rheumotologic conditions such as lupus and arthritis, but the origin of the condition is generally unknown.
Because we don’t have a cure for episcleritis, we focus our treatment on alleviating its symptoms. Frequent use of artificial tears is advised for moderate episcleritis, while topical steroids may be used during severe episodes. Since episcleritis is a self-limited condition that is not sight-threatening, some patients simply endure the occasional episodes without treatment. There appear to be no long-term effects of episcleritis, although severe cases of episcleritis may be a contra-indication for LASIK or PRK since those surgeries can exacerbate the condition.