Episcleritis Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jul 15, 2019
  • Author: Ellen N Yu-Keh, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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All patients should undergo a thorough history, including a review of systems.

Many patients complain of acute onset of mild-to-moderate discomfort, although some may notice only an area of painless injection.

Photophobia and watery discharge may be noted.



The diagnosis of episcleritis is mainly based on clinical findings.

Slit-lamp examination reveals edema of the episcleral tissue and injection of superficial episcleral vessels.

The injection may be diffuse in diffuse episcleritis or localized and associated with a nodule in nodular episcleritis. The injection in episcleritis blanches with instillation of 10% phenylephrine ophthalmic drops, but not in scleritis.

Localized temporal inflammation in a patient with Localized temporal inflammation in a patient with nodular episcleritis.

Other ocular findings that may be found in episcleritis include anterior uveitis and ocular hypertension. [7, 8]



Most cases are idiopathic; however, up to one third of cases may have an underlying systemic condition, [9, 10, 11] particularly connective tissue or vasculitic diseases.

Collagen-vascular diseases associated with episcleritis include the following:

Other noninfectious conditions associated with episcleritis include HLA-B27 associated, [12] Behcet disease, and sarcoidosis. [13] Gout, atopy, and acne rosacea have also been associated with episcleritis.

Foreign bodies may cause episcleritis.

Episcleritis may also be associated with infectious causes, including the following:



Episcleritis was found to be complicated by anterior uveitis in 16% of cases based on a large study from a tertiary referral study. Other complications included ocular hypertension and cataract progression. [7] However, the latter two complications were seen only in patients with episcleritis based on a population-based study. [14]