My right eye had been appearing bloodshot and red on and off for about a month. At first, I wondered if I had a viral conjunctivitis but there wasn’t any drainage or feeling of irritation.
Or perhaps it was a small subconjunctival hemorrhage, though I did not remember coughing hard, nor did I think I had slept with my hand perhaps fisted next to that area of my face.
Maybe it was my contact lens irritating my eye, so I stopped wearing my lens for about five days, two different times. The redness improved slightly, but it still did not resolve.
I finally decided to go to my optometrist Dr. Silodor for an examination.
After examining my eyes and asking questions about whether I slept in my contact lens (I don’t) and disposed of them every two weeks as prescribed (I don’t always), he slid back on his stool and told me I have episcleritis.
Episcleritis is an inflammation of the thin outer covering of the eyeball that lies under the conjunctiva. It contains many blood vessels, which appear reddened due to the inflammation.
It more commonly happens to one eye though it can occur in both. While it is mostly painless, it may cause mild irritation or burning.
The difference between episcleritis and scleritis is that scleritis is a more serious condition. Episcleritis usually resolves after a couple of weeks, and is mostly just an annoying problem.
The actual cause is unknown but may be associated with some types of immune conditions such as SLE or rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue disorder. It is also slightly more common in women, wrote the Eye Care Trust.
According to the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI), “pain and tenderness, however, are hallmarks of scleritis, especially pain that worsens with eye movement or radiates to different parts of the head, mimicking headache, sinus disease, or tooth ache.”
Treatment for epscleritis may involve using some type of topical steroid eye drops and cool compresses if needed. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can be taken if the person is having much discomfort, which I was not.
Dr. Silodor gave me a prescription for antibiotic eye drops that also had a steroid in it to use until the symptoms resolved. The bottle indicated the drops could be used up for up to 10 days.
He also instructed me to start using lubricating eye drops a few times a day when I wear my contact lens.
Within four to five days of using the drops, my right eye appeared much clearer. For the next few days I continued to use the drops. but less frequently so. By day 10, I stopped using them.
If the problem had continued past those two weeks of using drops, I was to come back to him for further evaluation. It has been a few more months and while my right eye appears a bit more bloodshot than my left, it is so much better than it was.
I am being very diligent about using lubricating eye drops and disposing of my contact lens every two weeks.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s health care and quality of care issues.
Edited by Jody Smith
Episcleritis. Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI). Retrieved June 29, 2016.
Episcleritis. Eyecare Trust. Retrieved June 29, 2016.