A red eyeball with a red cross at the center of it.

Me, Lupus, and Scleritis

There is so much more to lupus than meets the eye. I mean literally, lupus can meet your eyes and have an effect on them. Not only can the medicines affect your eyes, so can lupus in more ways than one. Lupus can affect your eyes through a condition called scleritis.

What is scleritis?

Scleritis is the inflammation of the sclera or white part of your eye. It becomes swollen, red, tearful, and painful. Scleritis can be common for those with autoimmune diseases. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are 2 main types of scleritis. Anterior scleritis and posterior uveitis. Anterior occurs at the front of the eye and posterior occurs at the back of the eye. I had to deal with anterior scleritis.

How scleritis manifested itself in my body

It all started on a gorgeous day in the spring. I felt an itch in my right eye. It wasn’t unusual since I have some allergy issues. It increasingly got worse as the days went on. The itching, burning, and swelling was difficult to deal with. I looked like I was in a fight with a prized fighter and lost.

After a few days, my left eye began to have very painful symptoms. My eye sockets felt as if they were being punched repeatedly. It was swelling and at night would be extremely red and stuck shut. I thought I had pink eye. I couldn't take the pain any longer. Finally, I made the appointment to get checked out.

My ophthalmologist visit

By the time I visited the ophthalmologist, I felt like I was a leper. I had on glasses but felt everyone could see my eyes and how bad they looked. I also had a mountain of pain. It was hard to see and even more difficult to navigate without assistance. I was unsure if it was contagious. Because I had no idea what was going on, I had some anxiety about it all.

The doctor was surprised when he saw my eyes. He explained that he didn’t think it was pink eye more than he thought it was a condition called scleritis. As usual, my body decided to do things to surprise doctors.

Treatment for scleritis

My treatment plan was straightforward. The doctor prescribed corticosteroid drops to bring down the inflammation and decrease the pain. It took a while to take effect. After a few days, my eyes began to feel a bit better. I was able to see and the swelling, redness, and pain began to subside. I continued on medications until my eyes were clear.

After doing some research, I learned that scleritis usually occurs in patients that have rheumatoid arthritis. Bingo that was me! Also, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, one percent of lupus patients could be affected by scleritis. It was a double whammy for me.

Me, lupus, and scleritis were friends for a bit. Lupus can manifest some really interesting things in your body. Dealing with scleritis was difficult, but I'm glad I can see beyond that issue. If you ever have eye issues make sure you get it checked out.

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