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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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The conjunctiva is the clear, thin tissue that lines the inside of your eyelid and covers the white of your eye.

The sclera is the white outer layer of your eyeball.

The episclera is the layer of clear tissue between the conjunctiva and the sclera.

What is episcleritis?

Episcleritis is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of your episclera.

  • Doctors don’t usually know what causes episcleritis, but it sometimes happens in people who have shingles, rheumatoid arthritis, or another health problem that causes inflammation

  • You may have a small red (or sometimes yellowish) spot on your eye that can come and go

  • Episcleritis usually happens in young adults, and it's more common in women than men

  • Episcleritis goes away on its own, but doctors may tell you to use corticosteroid eye drops to make your symptoms go away faster

Parts of the Eye

Parts of the Eye

What are the symptoms of episcleritis?

Eye symptoms usually happen in one eye and include:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Irritation or tenderness

  • A red or yellowish raised area over part of the white part of your eye that sometimes can look bumpy

You won't have any trouble seeing.

How do doctors treat episcleritis?

Episcleritis goes away on its own without treatment. To make your symptoms go away faster, doctors will tell you to:

  • Take an anti-inflammatory pain medicine, such as ibuprofen

  • Use corticosteroid eye drops if symptoms are more severe

Eye drops that shrink blood vessels (sold over-the-counter) might make your eye look less red. But they don't make the episcleritis go away any faster.

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