Keratitis (Symptoms, Causes and Treatment) (2023)

Wat is keratitis?

Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea (the clear outer layer of the eye that focuses light).

Keratitis can be mild, moderate, or severe and may involve inflammation of other parts of the eye. It can also affect one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral).1

Is keratitis contagious?

Some forms of keratitis can be contagious but are not often spread to others.

For exampleherpes-simplex(which causes cold sores) andShinglesThe viruses (which cause chickenpox) are highly contagious and are often transmitted through skin contact.

After this initial infection, the virus remains dormant in your body until it reactivates, at which point keratitis can develop.

The chance of passing herpes keratitis on to another person is small, but good hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing, should still be followed. Don't touch your eyes if you have an active cold sore.

However, keratitis caused by non-contagious elements, such as an eye injury, may not be contagious unless an infection develops.

This condition can progress quickly. See your doctor right away if you suspect keratitis or have an eye problem.

types of keratitis

Keratitis is divided into two main types:

  • Infectious keratitis(microbial keratitis)
  • Non-infectious keratitis(caused by physical trauma, poor immunity, or exposure to environmental extremes)

Infectious keratitis

Infectious keratitis, also called bacterial keratitis, is caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites.

(Video) Keratitis, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Infectious keratitis is the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide and disproportionately affects marginalized populations.2

Bacterial keratitis

This bacterial form of keratitis is mainly caused by improper and unhygienic use of contact lenses. The two types of bacteria associated with bacterial keratitis are:Pseudomonas aeruginosaIStaphylococcus aureus.3


This fungal form occurs as a result of eye injuries, contact lens use, or underlying medical conditions. It is common in tropical and subtropical environments. The fungal species involved include:CandidaKind,FusariumIgewasidlak4

Viral keratitis

This form of keratitis is caused by viruses. Common triggers include stress, weakened immunity, and exposure to direct sunlight.5Unlike bacterial and fungal keratitis, this type can be chronic and common. Common viruses associated with viral keratitis include herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster virus, and adenovirus.

Parasitaire keratitis (ofHe was still talkingcorneal inflammation)

This type is caused by a microscopic parasite called Acanthamoeba,Commonly found in water, soil and air.6Contact lens wearers are particularly at risk. However, it can also be caused by trauma to the cornea or exposure to contaminated water.

Non-infectious keratitis

Non-infectious keratitis can be caused by:

  • eye injury
  • weakened immune system
  • Wear contact lenses for a long time
  • Allergens such as plant material
  • Exposure to extreme environmental factors such as sunlight (photokeratitis or snow blindness)

In addition to the cause, keratitis can also be identified by the appearance or affected area of ​​the eye. Belong to them:

Diffuse lamellar keratitis

It's not contagiousRefractive surgeryComplication. It is characterized by the accumulation of white blood cells and other inflammatory cells under the resulting corneal flapLASIK surgery(laser eye surgery).7

Discopathische keratitis

Associated with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and causes swelling in the center of the cornea.

(Video) Bacterial Keratitis (Eye Infection From Contact Lenses) | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Inflammation of the corneal epithelium

It's a secondary complicationstare operation. It appears as woody or pointed lesions.

Fibrous keratitis

This condition is accompanied by swelling of the cornea and dry eyes. It is characterized by bands of epithelial cells and mucus on the surface of the cornea.

Point keratitis

This type of keratitis is associated with inflammation of the upper layer of the cornea. This is common in people with dry eye syndrome.

Ulceratieve keratitis

This form, also known as peripheral ulcerative keratitis, presents with inflammatory damage to the semilunar cornea. It is associated with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

What Causes Keratitis?

Keratitis has many possible causes. The most common causes are:

  • bacteria e.gPseudomonas aeruginosaIStaphylococcus aureus
  • Pilze kent fromcandida, Fusarium, Igewasidlakkind
  • Viruses such as varicella zoster virus, herpes simplex virus and adenovirus
  • parasites, e.gHe was still talking
  • Eye injuries such as scratches or cracks
  • Improper use of contact lenses, e.g. B. wearing them for a long time
  • Contact lenses are not cleaned
  • Wear contact lenses while swimming
  • A weakened immune system that prevents the eye from fighting infections
  • Exposure to external allergens and plant matter
  • Exposure to extreme sunlight (photokeratitis)
  • Underlying diseases such as dry eye syndrome or glaucoma

Symptoms of keratitis

The symptoms of keratitis depend on the type of keratitis the person is suffering from. However, symptoms of keratitis are:

  • eye irritationmine
  • red eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • discharge from the eye
  • sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision or partial blindness
  • inability to open the eyes

If you don't see a doctor, it's likely that your keratitis symptoms will worsen and get worse over time.

How is keratitis diagnosed

It's important to get checked right away if you suspect you have keratitis. Your eye doctor will review your history to determine any symptoms or underlying conditions.

During the diagnostic process, the ophthalmologist will: aSlit lampto magnify the structures in your eyes to look for any abnormalities.

(Video) What Is A Corneal Ulcer? | Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

The ophthalmologist may also use a flashlight to examine the pupil for any unusual changes.

Laboratory analysis can be performed to rule out infection and determine the exact cause of keratitis.

Can keratitis heal on its own?

Keratitis may heal on its own if it is caused by an eye injury or a non-infectious factor, such as a weak immune system or prolonged contact lens wear.

However, you can use an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection from developing during the healing process.

When keratitis is caused by infectious elements such as bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites, it may not heal on its own. In this case, you may need to take medication.

treatment of keratitis

Treatment for keratitis depends on the cause.

Common treatment options for keratitis include:

  • topical antibioticsfor a bacterial infection
  • Antimycoticasuch as oral voriconazole for fungal keratitis8
  • virostaticaAs Trifluridine (US) and ganciclovir (Europe) for viral keratitis
  • BiologyAs chloorheksydyna, biguanid I phosphocholine in parasitic keratitis

Keratitis is usually easy to treat and clears up quickly. However, if the infection spreads beyond the surface of the cornea, it can leave scars that affect vision or possibly lead to blindness.

Also, not all types of keratitis respond well to treatment. For example,He was still talkingKeratitis (caused by a parasite) can be difficult to treat and drug resistant.

(Video) Superficial Punctate Keratitis Introduction, Diagnosis and Treatment

Also for viral keratitis, viral medications cannot completely eradicate the virus. If the infection persists, your doctor may order additional eye tests and introduce advanced treatment options.

If you have keratitis due to an injury, it will usually go away on its own as your eye heals. However, you may be given an antibiotic ointment to ease the pain and prevent infection.

What happens if keratitis is left untreated?

If left untreated, keratitis can develop quickly and cause serious eye damage or even blindness.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for keratitis?

If you are treated early, you are likely to recover quickly from keratitis. However, late treatment can lead to serious complications, including:

  • scars on the cornea
  • Prolonged inflammation
  • Corneal ulcers (ulcers on the cornea)
  • Recurrent infections
  • glaucoma (in rare cases)
  • loss of vision

Tips for preventing keratitis

Here are some tips to prevent keratitis from developing:

  • If you use contact lenses, follow your doctor's instructions
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching your lenses
  • Replace contact lenses as directed by your doctor
  • Avoid sleeping with contact lenses unless advised by your optometrist
  • Avoid swimming with contact lenses
  • UseDaily wear and tear of contacts
  • Do not touch your eyes if you have pain or a cold sore
  • Only use eye drops prescribed by your doctor
  • Contact your ophthalmologist immediately if you notice any redness, pain or blurred vision.

In this article


How do you treat keratitis symptoms? ›

Keratitis caused by fungi typically requires antifungal eye drops and oral antifungal medication. Viral keratitis. If a virus is causing the infection, antiviral eye drops and oral antiviral medications may be effective. Other viruses need only supportive care such as artificial tear drops.

What are the causes of keratitis? ›

Causes of keratitis include:
  • Injury. If any object scratches or injures the surface of your cornea, noninfectious keratitis may result. ...
  • Bacteria, fungi or parasites. These organisms may live on the surface of a contact lens or contact lens carrying case. ...
  • Viruses. ...
  • Bacteria. ...
  • Contaminated water.
Sep 15, 2022

What is the most common cause of keratitis? ›

Bacterial keratitis: This type, caused by bacteria, is the most common. Fungal keratitis: This type is caused by fungi, often from plants. Parasitic keratitis: Parasites are organisms that live off another organism. Acanthamoeba keratitis is caused by a one-celled parasite called an amoeba.

What is the fastest way to get rid of keratitis? ›

Treatment. If your keratitis is caused by an injury, it usually clears up on its own as your eye heals. You may get an antibiotic ointment to help with symptoms and prevent infection. Infections are treated with prescription eye drops and sometimes antibiotics or antiviral medicine.

How long does eye keratitis last? ›

So, the infection should be brought under control within 24 to 48 hours; the swelling phase that also involves the surface epithelium may take several days to heal, and in a very severe infection even weeks. Finally the evolution of the scar can take months.

Is keratitis eye an emergency? ›

What is keratitis? Keratitis is an inflammation or infection of the cornea of the eye. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Keratitis is a medical emergency because extensive involvement may lead to blindness.

Does stress cause keratitis? ›

The virus that causes cold sores may cause repeated keratitis infections. The repeated infections are triggered by stress, an impaired immune system, or exposure to sunlight.

What virus causes keratitis? ›

HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) keratitis is an infection of the cornea—the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye—that is caused by HSV. The infection usually heals without damaging the eye, but more severe infections can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness.

Does keratitis go away? ›

Keratitis usually doesn't heal on its own. If you have symptoms of keratitis, and especially if you wear contact lenses, you should see an eye doctor right away.

What are the stages of keratitis? ›

Bacterial keratitis can advance through four stages: progressive infiltration, active ulceration, regression, and healing.

Can keratitis spread to other eye? ›

Acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, but it can lead to eye pain, permanent vision loss or even total blindness. The infection can affect one or both eyes. It's not contagious.

How contagious is keratitis? ›

Pseudomonas bacteria can be found in soil and water. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria normally live on human skin and on the protective lining inside the body called the mucous membrane (for example, the lining of the eyes, nose, or mouth). Bacterial keratitis cannot be spread from person to person.

What to avoid with keratitis? ›

A person with keratitis may have sensitivity to light, called photophobia. As a result, they may avoid bright lights indoors or strong sunlight. Anyone with any keratitis symptoms should see an eye doctor as soon as possible. If keratitis gets worse, it may damage the eye or cause blindness.

What cream is good for keratitis? ›

Acyclovir is used for herpetic keratitis, whereas ganciclovir is used to treat or prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections.

Is keratitis sight threatening? ›

Bacterial keratitis or corneal ulcer is a common sight-threatening ocular corneal pathology. In some cases, there is rapidly progressive stromal inflammation. If untreated can lead to progressive tissue destruction, corneal perforation, or extension of infection to adjacent tissue.

How often does keratitis lead to blindness? ›

It can cause corneal infection (keratitis) in man, and may lead to blindness of the affected eye in 15% of untreated cases. The main risk factors are eye trauma and contact lens wearing. Early presentation of Acanthamoeba keratitis patients usually includes ocular pain, photophobia, and a unilateral red eye.

Should I go to the hospital for keratitis? ›

If you notice any of the symptoms of keratitis, make an appointment to see an eye specialist right away. Delays in diagnosis and treatment of keratitis can lead to serious complications, including blindness.

Does keratitis get worse before it gets better? ›

Keratitis can get worse with time, eventually leading to blindness. For this reason, as with most eye conditions, see a doctor immediately if you suspect a problem.

How rare is keratitis? ›

Acanthamoeba keratitis

The incidence of the disease in developed countries is approximately one to 33 cases per million contact lens wearers.

What autoimmune disease causes keratitis? ›

Occasionally develops in patients who have systemic autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, polyarthritis nodosa, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erithematosus, systemic vasculitis, and Wegener's granulomatosis.

Which vitamin deficiency causes keratitis? ›

Vitamin B12 Deficiency as a Cause of Neurotrophic Keratopathy - PMC. The . gov means it's official.

Can dry eyes cause keratitis? ›

In one such study, ocular surface diseases such as herpetic corneal infection, bullous keratopathy, dry eye, blepharitis, and other eyelid disorders were shown to increase the risk for bacterial keratitis in 64 of 300 (21.3%) eyes (291 patients).

How do you diagnose keratitis? ›

Your eye care provider will examine your eyes with a special instrument called a slit lamp. It provides a bright source of light and magnification to detect the character and extent of keratitis, as well as the effect it may have on other structures of the eye.

Is keratitis an inflammation or infection? ›

Keratitis is an inflammation and swelling of the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye.

Is keratitis a fungal infection? ›

Fungal keratitis is an infection of the cornea (the clear dome covering the colored part of the eye) that is caused by a fungus. Some fungi that can cause fungal keratitis include: Fusarium species.

Is keratitis the inflammation? ›

Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea and is characterized by corneal edema, infiltration of inflammatory cells, and ciliary congestion. It is associated with both infectious and non-infectious diseases, which may be systemic or localized to the ocular surface.

How fast does keratitis progress? ›

Bacterial keratitis tends to develop quite quickly and requires timely treatment to reduce permanent damage to the eye. In severe cases without adequate treatment, bacterial keratitis has the potential to cause blindness. Virulent bacteria may cause complete destruction of the cornea within 24-48 hours.

Does warm compress help keratitis? ›

Marginal keratitis is treated by treating the underlying overgrowth of normal bacteria on the eyelid. The usual treatment is a combination of lid scrubs (special cleaning technique to the edge of the eyelid), warm compresses to the eyelids, and antibiotic ointment.

Does ibuprofen help keratitis? ›

Don't rub your eyes. To relieve your discomfort, place a cold washcloth over the closed eyes, use artificial tears, and/or take an oral over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®). Usually the condition goes away on its own within a few hours to days.

Is keratitis itchy? ›

Keratitis is a medical term for inflammation of the cornea. Symptoms include rapid onset of pain and redness of the eye, itching, blurred vision, tearing or discharge from the eye, and sensitivity to light.

What bacteria causes keratitis? ›


Eighty percent of bacterial corneal ulcers are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Pseudomonas species. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most frequent and the most pathogenic ocular pathogen which can cause corneal perforation in just 72 hours.

Can keratitis go away on its own? ›

A very mild case of noninfectious keratitis will usually heal on its own. For mild cases, your eye doctor may recommend that you use artificial tear drops. If your case is more severe and includes tearing and pain, you may need to use antibiotic eye drops to help with symptoms and prevent infection.

Can keratitis be cured? ›

For viral keratitis, a doctor prescribes antiviral eye drops or oral medications. These infections have no cure and may reappear during times of illness or stress. Some people with viral keratitis need routine antiviral medication to prevent outbreaks.

How do you know if you have bacterial keratitis? ›

Symptoms of bacterial keratitis include:
  1. Eye pain.
  2. Eye redness.
  3. Blurred vision.
  4. Sensitivity to light.
  5. Excessive tearing.
  6. Eye discharge.

What eye drops are prescribed for keratitis? ›

Medical Care. The traditional therapy for bacterial keratitis is fortified antibiotics, tobramycin (14 mg/mL) 1 drop every hour alternating with fortified cefazolin (50 mg/mL) or vancomycin (50mg/mL) 1 drop every hour.


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