Effectiveness of pharmacological agents for the treatment of non-infectious scleritis: a systematic review protocol

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BACKGROUND: Non-infectious scleritis is a potentially sight-threatening condition in which the sclera, the white outer layer of the eye, becomes inflamed. Whilst scleritis can be infective, the majority of cases are due to non-infectious causes, often occurring in association with an underlying systemic autoimmune or auto-inflammatory condition. Thorough systemic work-up is crucial to identify disease aetiology and exclude infection; however, a significant proportion of disease remains idiopathic with the underlying cause unknown. Non-infectious scleritis is normally managed with systemic corticosteroid and immunosuppression, yet there is no widely agreed consensus on the most appropriate therapy, and no national or international guidelines exist for treatment of non-infectious scleritis.

METHODS: Standard systematic review methodology will be used to identify, select and extract data from comparative studies of pharmacological interventions used to treat patients with non-infectious scleritis. Searches of bibliographic databases (Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, CINAHL and EMBASE) and clinical trial registers will be employed. No restrictions will be placed on language or date of publication. Non-English articles will be translated where necessary. The primary outcome of interest will be disease activity measured by reduction in scleritis grading according to standardised grading systems. Secondary outcomes will include change in best corrected visual acuity, reduction in concurrent dose of systemic corticosteroid, time to treatment failure, adverse events and health-related quality of life. Risk of bias assessment will be conducted appropriate to each study design. Study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment will be completed by two reviewers independently. Data will be presented in a table and a narrative synthesis will be undertaken. Meta-analysis will be performed where methodological and clinical homogeneity exists. Subgroup and sensitivity analysis will be undertaken if appropriate.

DISCUSSION: Many studies have investigated the effectiveness of pharmacological agents used in the management of non-infectious scleritis. A systematic review is needed to collate and analyse this evidence. Findings of this systematic review will help guide ophthalmologists managing patients with non-infectious scleritis and may form the basis for evidence-based recommendations for future clinical practice and encourage standardisation of treatment protocols.


Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2020


  • Drug therapy
  • Management
  • Meta-analysis
  • Non-infectious scleritis
  • Pharmacological agent
  • Systematic review


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