Infectious Keratitis: What is it?
Symptoms You May Experience:
Examination: What Your Eye Doctor Will Look For:
What You Can Do:
When To Call Your M.D.:
Prognosis: Will I See Better?
Keratitis means inflammation of the cornea. Causes include infection, dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, and autoimmune disorders. Infectious keratitis refers specifically to keratitis caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. People who wear contact lenses are especially prone to infectious keratitis, and their risk of infection increases as they wear their contact lenses for longer periods. Infectious keratitis can develop into a corneal ulcer if the infection becomes severe.
You may experience eye pain, redness, decreased vision, and sensitivity to light. The severity of your symptoms may depend on which type of bacterium, virus, or fungus is causing the infection.
The eye doctor looks for infection in the front of the eye with a slit lamp. Signs of infection include redness of the normally clear conjunctiva, whiteness of the normally clear corona, and inflammatory cells in the cornea or anterior chamber. The eye doctor may scape a sample from the surface of the cornea for laboratory evaluation, to determine what type of bacterium, virus, or fungus is causing the infection.
Avoid eye injury and keep dirt or foreign objects from entering your eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or handling contact lenses. Avoid sleeping in contact lenses.
If you are experiencing any decrease in vision, redness, severe pain, or a white spot on the normally clear front surface of the eye, you should call your eye doctor immediately. Avoid wearing contact lenses if you are having any such eye problems.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the infectious keratitis. Appropriate antibiotic eye drops, such as anti-bacterial, anitviral, or antifungal agents, will likely be prescribed for frequent use (as often as every 30 to 60 minutes in severe infections). In certain cases, oral antibiotics can also help treat the infection.
Vision often improves with treatment of the underlying infection. However, there may be some scarring of the cornea after treatment that may or may not affect vision in the long run. If the corneal scarring is in the center of the cornea, where it affects the line of site, a corneal transplant may ultimately be needed to improve the vision.
A Typical Keratitis Condition (Click For Bigger View-Warning: Graphic).
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