From 1997-2018, Scleritis Lowered 34% in the UK, Study Shares

According to Healio, recently published data suggests that the incidence of scleritis lowered by around 34% over a 22-year period within the United Kingdom. Scleritis, which occurs when the sclera of your eye becomes inflamed, is associated with a number of other conditions and infectious and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (I-IMIDs), such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sarcoidosis, and Sjögren’s syndrome, among others. Thus, determining how and why the incidence fell, and how to continue that, could be extremely beneficial. See the full data in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The Research

In the study, researchers wanted to understand more about both scleritis and how it impacted the prognosis of patients with other I-IMIDs. For example, since it is so closely linked to RA, researchers wondered how that affected incidence, treatment, and condition management.

To perform their research, the researchers performed a retrospective study for a 22-year period, ranging from 1997-2018. Altogether, the study focused on patients within the United Kingdom specifically. Data from 10,939,823 people was included in the research. Of these, there were 2,946 incident scleritis diagnoses.

Next, researchers created a control study for a slightly longer period (1995-2019). Overall, the included data was sourced from 12,020 controls and 3,005 incident scleritis cases.

Through their analysis, researchers determined that scleritis decreased over the 22-year period, with only about 61,650 patients with scleritis in the UK in 2018. Researchers also determined that:

  • Females were more likely to develop scleritis than males.
  • Caucasian individuals were less likely to develop scleritis than those who were Black or South Asian.
  • Patients who were 51-60 years old had the highest risk levels compared to younger individuals.
  • Patients with scleritis were 2x more likely to have previously been diagnosed with an infectious and immune-mediated inflammatory disease.

Altogether, researchers determined that while the incidence is falling, this is most likely due to better I-IMID treatment and management. Thus, in the future, patients with I-IMIDs should also be evaluated for ophthalmologic care.


According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO):

The sclera is the white part of the eye. When the sclera is swollen, red, tender, or painful (called inflammation), it is called scleritis.

There are two main forms: anterior and posterior. In patients with anterior scleritis, the more common form, the inflammation occurs in the front of the eye. Alternately, the posterior form causes inflammation in the back of the eye. The AAO also notes that there are two forms of posterior scleritis and three forms of anterior, which may lead to redness and irritation, the appearance of nodules, pain and vision loss, retinal detachment, and even glaucoma.

Because this condition is often linked to another condition, many believe a prior autoimmune condition could prompt its development. Eye infections or ocular trauma could also cause this condition. However, doctors believe that it is rarely caused by any sort of bacterial or fungal infection. Symptoms include:

  • Eye pain and tenderness
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme light sensitivity
  • Sclera redness
  • Unexplained tears
  • Pain that radiates to the head and jaw
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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