Episcleritis is inflammation of the clear coating over your eye. This causes redness and discomfort but no discharge.

Some people with the autoimmune disease ankylosing spondylitis (AS) experience episcleritis, though uveitis and iritis are more common eye symptoms. Not everyone with AS experiences eye inflammation.

This article explores the relationship between episcleritis and AS, how to manage this symptom, and what other conditions besides AS can cause it.

AS is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in your joints and ligaments, especially around the spinal cord. This inflammation can impact other parts of the body, too, including your eyes.

The uvea is the eye layer most commonly impacted by inflammation from AS. It contains the pigmented part of your eye, including the iris. Roughly half of all people with AS will experience inflammation of the uvea (uveitis) or the iris (iritis) at some point.

Inflammation of the sclera and episclera is less common.

Scleritis is more likely to be linked to chronic health conditions. Episcleritis is a symptom that happens spontaneously. It can occur with AS, but it is not related to chronic health concerns.

Episcleritis is the end phase of eye inflammation and is usually the result of more severe eye inflammation. It is important to distinguish between scleritis and episcleritis because the treatment plans for these conditions can be quite different.

Between 26 and 36 percent of people with episcleritis are believed to have a chronic condition that contributes to the symptom.

Possible causes of episcleritis outside of AS include:

If a healthcare professional suspects that an illness may be contributing to your Episcleritis, you may need additional testing or blood work.

There are two ways Episcleritis can appear.

  • redness in one section or the entire eye
  • There are bumps in the eye with dilated blood vessels.

You may also experience redness.

  • tearing or watery eyes
  • Light has a sensitivity to light.
  • A hot or rough feeling in your eye.
  • It is mild pain or discomfort.

The impact on your vision is usually minimal, but it could cause some blurriness. Episcleritis does not usually have discharge.

An eye doctor can usually make a diagnosis of episcleritis by performing an examination of your eye, most likely with a slit lamp. This tool gives the doctor a 3D view of your eye to help distinguish the difference between internal layers.

The doctor will likely see your eye structure and any anomalies with the eye drops you will receive before the exam.

Episcleritis is a small concern that will be resolved in a few days. You should always seek a professional opinion when you experience eye inflammation. It is important to rule out infections and other eye problems.

Some treatment options are available when inflammation is an ongoing issue or when you are having trouble with your quality of life.

If you have one of the chronic conditions, such as AS, that increases your chances of developing episcleritis, it is important that you effectively manage your condition.

Learn more about treatment options for AS.

Everything from allergies to infections can make your eyes temporarily red and irritated. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is a common condition that can be confused with episcleritis due to its similar appearance.

Pink eye is a blanket diagnosis for inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by a variety of infections.

While both episcleritis and pink eye can appear with redness, a burning sensation, and Light has a sensitivity to light., pink eye usually also appears with:

  • Eye discharge
  • It was itching.
  • The eyelid is swelling.

The most distinguishing feature of these two is discharge. Episcleritis is possible if you simply water your eyes, but thicker discharge makes a pink eye more likely.

Uveitis is a more common eye problem in people with AS.

Episcleritis causes one or both of your eyes to be red and irritated. It can arise from an acute health concern or from a chronic condition.

If you have AS, you should talk to your doctor about what to look for in your eye health and if you are experiencing any troubling symptoms.

Eye problems can be treated directly. Managing your underlying condition effectively is the best way to prevent or diminish the effects of AS or another chronic condition on your eyes.