Episcleritis

Definition:
Episcleritis is irritation and inflammation of the episclera, a thin layer of tissue covering the white part (sclera) of the eye. It occurs without an infection.
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Episcleritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the episcleral tissue between the conjunctiva (the clear mucous membrane lining the inner eyelids and sclera) and the sclera (the white part of the eye) that occurs in the absence of an infection. The red appearance caused by this condition looks similar to conjunctivitis, but there is no discharge. There is no apparent cause, but it can be associated with an underlying systemic inflammatory or rheumatologic condition such as rosacea, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

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It may also be associated with conditions such as gout and herpes simplex infection, so when episcleritis occurs it’s important to make sure these conditions aren’t a factor.

On rare occasions, it may become apparent that external substances, such as chemicals, are responsible for an attack.

Episcleritis is more likely to affect people in their 30s and 40s, and women are more likely to be affected than men.

Symptoms:
Typical symptoms include generalized or local redness of the eyes that may be accompanied by mild soreness or discomfort but no visual problems.

In general the symptoms are:
•A pink or purple color to the normally white part of the eye
•Eye pain
•Eye tenderness
•Sensitivity to light
•Tearing of the eye

When someone develops episcleritis, their eye (or eyes) appears red and may feel sore, tender and uncomfortable. In this respect, it’s similar to conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva, which covers the episclera). But unlike conjunctivitis, episcleritis doesn’t cause a discharge, although watering may occur. Those affected may also find they become sensitive to bright light.

It comes in two forms: simple and nodular.

Simple episcleritis is characterised by intermittent bouts of inflammation that occur every couple of months and last between one and two weeks.

Some people report that these bouts are more likely to affect them in the spring and autumn, and although triggers often remain unidentified, some people find that stress or hormonal changes kick off the process.

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Nodular episcleritis causes longer bouts of inflammation that are more painful than simple episcleritis. This type is more often associated with underlying medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes:
Episcleritis is a common condition that is usually mild.

The cause is usually unknown, but it may occur with certain diseases, such as:

*Herpes zoster
*Rheumatoid arthritis
*Gout
*Sjogren syndrome
*Syphilis
*Tuberculosis
*Herpes simplex infection
*Inflammatory bowel disease and Lupus.

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis of episcleritis is made clinically. A work-up may be needed in some cases to uncover a possible underlying medical condition.

Treatment:
The condition usually disappears without treatment in 1 – 2 weeks,  but topical or oral anti-inflammatory agents maybe prescribed to relieve pain or in chronic/recurrent cases. Corticosteroid eye drops may relieve the symptoms faster.
You may Click to see:Alternative Treatment of  Episcleritis

Prognosis: Episcleritis usually improves without treatment. However, treatment may make symptoms go away sooner.

Possible Completions:
In some cases, the condition may return. Rarely, irritation and inflammation of the white part of the eye may develop. This is called scleritis. Episcleritis, is associated with an underlying disorder about 70% of the time, and Scleritis can produce serious damage to the Eye; Episcleritis never does.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/episcleritis1.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001019.htm
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/conditions/episcleritis.html
http://lmk23.tripod.com/episcleritis.html

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