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Keratitis - inflammation of the cornea

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Keratitis is the medical term for inflammation of the cornea- the outer protective tissue for the pupil and iris of your eyes. It’s basically and infection and is more prevalent among lens wearers.


Types of keratitis
  • Epithelial: Infection in the superficial or outer layer of the cornea.
  • Interstitial: infection in the deeper or stromal layer of the cornea.
  • Central: Infection in the central or peripheral part of the cornea


Symptoms of keratitis

Since it’s an infection, the affected person will suffer from the following: 

  • Pain, redness and swelling in eye (s)
  • Watering or discharge from eyes
  • Irritation and itching in eyes
  • Blurry vision, eye strain
  • Difficulty to open the eyelid due to inflammation
  • Sensitivity to light


Causes of keratitis

Bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections.

Keratistis can result from a wide a range of microbial infections. Viruses like herpes zoster and herpes simplex while bacterial species including Hemophilus, Streptococci, Pseudomonas, and  Staphylococci primarily cause corneal infections.

Fungi like Candida and Aspergillus if attack the cornea, along with bacteria inflammation then it can complicate the keratitis.

Infectious keratitis can be contracted from swimming pool water, oceanic water or splashing eyes with contaminated water.

Contact lens keratitis

The most common parasite responsible for contact lens infection is acanthamoeba, which is infectious in nature. Sharing lens, wearing lens for long time and using contaminated lens lead to the corneal infection.

Corneal injury and trauma

Physical and chemical injury is another common reason behind keratitis. The corneal surface can tear from external foreign particles, over rubbing of eyes or from exposure to chemical irritants.


Complications of keratitis

Corneal scarring, corneal ulcers and temporary or permanent loss of vision are some complications of improperly treated keratitis.


Diagnosis of keratitis

Your eye doctor will evaluate the symptoms of infection and enquire about your general habits and medical history. Following this, you have to undergo the following eye tests in order to determine the severity of the infection:

Slit lamp exam to look deeper into internal structures of the eyes which include the cornea, iris, pupils.

Your doctor will use a penlight to estimate the symptoms and condition of your cornea and your eyes at the large

A sample of your tear or tiny amount of corneal cells may be collected for laboratory analysis in regard of microbial infection

You might have to undergo visual acuity tests as well.


Treatment of keratitis

First your doctor will advise you to stop wearing contact lenses until the infection goes away or permanently as well.

The treatment, quite certainly depends on the type of infection. Infectious keratitis is managed with antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral therapy involving eye drops, pills or intravenous therapy. Antibiotic eye drops and pills are prescribed for eradicating acanthamoeba infection.

In case of corneal injury or trauma, you need to wear an eye patch for 24 hours along with application of topical medicines to heal the infection.

In worst cases, if the damage is irreparable then a corneal transplant may be needed.


Self care and preventing keratitis

Follow the instruction explained by your doctor regarding care and hygiene of your contact lens. This way chance of a future infection is minimized.

Do not share your lenses with anyone and wear protective eye gears while swimming, going outdoors under sun, handing chemicals, etc.

Complete the course of the medicines and be regular with your appointments to ensure health of your eyes. 

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: july 18, 2014

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