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Episcleritis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Ellen N Yu-Keh, MD; Chief Editor: John D Sheppard, Jr, MD, MMSc  more...
Updated: Jul 27, 2016

Medical Care

Episcleritis is a self-limited inflammation that generally causes little or no permanent damage to the eye. Many patients with episcleritis may not require any treatment.

Local therapy

Diffuse episcleritis often requires no treatment. Artificial tears are useful for patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.[14] Patients with severe or prolonged episodes may require artificial tears and/or topical corticosteroids.

Nodular episcleritis is more indolent and may require local corticosteroid drops or anti-inflammatory agents.

Topical ophthalmic 0.5% prednisolone, 0.1% dexamethasone, loteprednol etabonate 0.5%, or 0.1% betamethasone daily may be used.

About two-thirds of patients with episcleritis respond to topical therapy alone.[8]

Systemic therapy

Systemic anti-inflammatory agents may be useful in eyes that are not responsive to topical therapy.

Systemic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given until inflammation is suppressed. NSAIDs used in treatment of episcleritis include flurbiprofen (100 mg tid), indomethacin (100 mg daily initially and decreased to 75 mg), and naproxen (220 mg up to 6 times per day). Naproxen 500 mg is reserved for patients with more severe episcleritis.

The response to NSAIDs differs, and an NSAID that is effective in one patient may not be effective in another. These agents should be given with food in order to prevent gastrointestinal side effects.

Patients who do not respond or who have an incomplete response to both local therapy and systemic NSAIDs after one month may be treated with oral corticosteroids for at least one month in a tapering dose.[8] About 20% of patients with episcleritis require oral corticosteroid treatment.[12]

Patients with episcleritis secondary to infectious causes need appropriate antibiotic therapy.



Sunglasses may be useful for patients with sensitivity to light.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Ellen N Yu-Keh, MD Consulting Staff, Department of Ophthalmology, St Luke's Medical Center, Quezon City, Philippines

Ellen N Yu-Keh, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Philippine Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

R Christopher Walton, MD Professor, Director of Uveitis and Ocular Inflammatory Disease Service, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine

R Christopher Walton, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Retina Society, American College of Healthcare Executives, American Uveitis Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

John D Sheppard, Jr, MD, MMSc Professor of Ophthalmology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Clinical Director, Thomas R Lee Center for Ocular Pharmacology, Ophthalmology Residency Research Program Director, Eastern Virginia Medical School; President, Virginia Eye Consultants

John D Sheppard, Jr, MD, MMSc is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Uveitis Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS Assistant Professor of Surgery (Ophthalmology), New York College of Medicine (NYCOM); Director of Residency Ophthalmology Training, The Institute for Family Health and Mid-Hudson Family Practice Residency Program; Staff Ophthalmologist, Telluride Medical Center

Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, American Intraocular Lens Society, American Medical Association, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Medical Society of the State of New York, New York State Ophthalmological Society, Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Localized temporal inflammation in a patient with nodular episcleritis.
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