Sclera, The White That Protects the Eyeball

The sclera is the white, hard part of the eyeball. The sclera, which is formed from this connective tissue, functions to maintain the shape of the eyeball and protects important parts of the eye, such as the retina and lens.

The sclera is covered by the conjunctiva, which is a clear mucous membrane that lubricates the eye.

The sclera consists of:

  • Episclera, which is loose connective tissue that lies just below the conjunctiva.
  • Sclera, which is the white part of the eye.
  • Lamina fusca, which consists of elastic fibers and is located in the inner layer of the eyeball.

In addition to giving shape and maintaining the structure of the eyeball, the sclera also has another function, namely to protect the inside of the eye from injury and exposure to foreign objects. The sclera of the eye is also the place where the eye muscles attach, thus allowing the eyeball to move.

Common Disorders of the Sclera

If not taken care of, the sclera can experience various disorders that interfere with eye function. The following are some of the most common scleral diseases:

1. Scleritis

Scleritis is a disease in which the sclera of the eye becomes inflamed. This inflammation can occur in the front or back of the eyeball.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but scleritis is often associated with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and lupus rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases, inflammation of the sclera may also be due to infection and connective tissue disorders.

Scleritis can cause several symptoms, such as severe eye pain, red eyes, watery eyes, blurred vision, and easy glare or sensitivity to light.

2. Episcleritis

Episcleritis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the sclera of the eye. Just like scleritis, the cause of episcleritis is also not known with certainty.

However, episcleritis tends to be more common in people who have an inflammatory disease, such as arthritis, lupus, or Crohn's disease.

This inflammation causes the eyes to look red, irritated, and dry. The eyes can also feel uncomfortable and sore, but not as severe as scleritis. Patients with scleral disorders also generally do not experience visual disturbances.

3.Pinguecula & pterygium

Pinguecula is the growth of a yellow or reddish lump or membrane on the clear layer along the eyelid and partially covering the sclera. If it has dilated to cover the pupil of the eye, this condition is called pterygium.

Scleral disease is common in people whose eyes are often exposed to sunlight, dust, wind, or have dry eyes, for a long time. Although it rarely causes dangerous complications, if not treated promptly, this condition can block the pupil of the eye and interfere with vision.

Symptoms pinguecula and pterygium These include a burning sensation in the eye area, gritty or foreign body sensation in the eye, itching, and redness. Even so, some people with scleral disorders do not feel any symptoms.

4. Subconjunctival hemorrhage

When the eye becomes inflamed, the blood vessels in the conjunctiva area become larger and more visible. These blood vessels tend to be fragile and break easily. When a blood vessel in the conjunctiva bursts, this condition is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The sclera that has this condition will look red.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage can occur spontaneously for no apparent reason. However, there are several things that can increase the risk of subconjunctival bleeding, such as eye injury, frequent sneezing and coughing, straining too hard, vomiting, high blood pressure, frequent rubbing of the eyes, or irritation from wearing contact lenses.

5. Scleral injury

The sclera of the eye can be injured or damaged by impact or entry of a foreign object into the eye. Some foreign objects that often cause injury to the sclera of the eye are dust, sand, glass or wood chips, make-up, or chemical splash.

When affected by a scleral injury, the eye can feel sore, painful, itchy, red, watery, and difficult to see clearly. Therefore, scleral injuries that cause severe complaints need to be treated by an ophthalmologist immediately.

6. Scleral discoloration

A healthy, normal sclera is white. However, in some conditions, the sclera can change color. An example is the sclera which becomes yellowish due to increased bilirubin. This condition often occurs in people who have liver disease.

In addition to yellowing, the sclera may also turn bluish in color or appear as black dots. This condition is caused by a genetic disorder called ocular melanocytosis.

Bluish sclerae can also be caused by: osteogenesis imperfecta, which is a rare disease that causes bones to become brittle.

Generally, this change in eye color will not cause other complaints. However, if brown or black spots appear accompanied by visual disturbances, eye pain, or changes in the shape of the eye, this condition may be caused by the dangerous melanoma eye cancer.

How to Maintain Eye Sclera Health

In order to avoid various disorders of the sclera of the eye, here are some tips to maintain the health of the sclera of the eye:

  • Consumption of nutritious foods that are good for maintaining eye health, namely vegetables, fruits, and foods that contain omega-3, such as fish and eggs.
  • Use sunglasses when working in the hot sun.
  • Routinely use eye protection when doing work or activities that expose the eyes to a lot of heat, dust, and wind.
  • Don't stare at the screen for too long gadgets and computers. If it is too long, the eyes can experience fatigue and become dry.
  • Quit smoking, because smoking can increase the risk of cataracts, optic nerve damage, and blindness. Cigarette smoke can also cause eye irritation.
  • Routine eye health checks to the doctor, at least once every two years.

Now, Now that you know what the sclera is and how to treat it, right? If you experience symptoms that indicate a scleral disorder, don't hesitate to check with an ophthalmologist to get the right treatment.