What is Keratitis?

Keratitis is a condition in which the cornea of the eye becomes inflamed. The cornea is the clear, tissue on the front of the eye that covers the iris. This clear tissue is normally dome shaped. At times, keratitis is caused by a bacteria, virus, parasite or fungi causing an infection in the eye.

Another form of keratitis does not involve an infection of any kind. The symptom is caused by wearing your contacts for a longer duration of time than recommended.

It is important go get prompt attention for any type of irritation of the eye. This is because an infection that goes untreated can damage your eye permanently. Permanent damage to your eye also permanently damage your vision as well.

What are the Symptoms of Keratitis?

The symptoms of kerratitis must be carefully monitored. It is important that you receive medical treatment or see your ophthalmologist. Individually, these symptoms may resemble pink eye. However, when they are combined, you will realize that medical attention is necessary to relieve them.

Symptoms include

  • Redness of the eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Excess production of tears
  • Yellowish discharge from the eye
  • Difficulty opening your eye because of pain or irritation
  • Blurry vision
  • Decrease in vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Feeling as though something is in your eye or that your eye has been scratched.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor or ophthalmologist right away. Delaying medical treatment could result in the loss of part, or all of your vision in the affected eye.

Keratitis Causes

Typically, keratitis is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection of the cornea. Common pathogens that cause keratitis include standard bacterial infection, amoebic infection, and fungal infection. Viral infection related to the Herpes simplex and Herpes zoster viruses can also cause keratitis. In addition, chlamydia causing virus can also cause keratitis.

Injury can also preempt keratitis infection. This happens when an object scratches or penetrates the cornea creating room for pathogens to gain access to the damaged surface.

Contaminated contact lenses can also increase the risk of keratitis infection. Bacteria or fungi, particularly the microscopic parasite acanthamoeba tend to inhabit the surface or case of the contact lens. Upon getting into contact with your cornea, the lens may transfer these pathogens to your cornea, resulting in an infection.

Keratitis infection has also been linked to contaminated water. Chemicals in water such as those used in swimming pools may cause irritation to the cornea resulting in the weakening of the corneal epithelium. This usually results in chemical keratitis, a short-lived condition that lasts only a few hours.

Other causes of keratitis include arc-flash symptoms, severe eye-dryness, severe allergic reactions and corneal ulcers. Keratitis is also a symptom exhibited by those who suffer from river blindness.

How is Keratitis Treated?

Treating noninfectious keratitis will depend on the cause of the condition, such as: a scratch or wearing contacts for an extended period of time, if you are suffering from severe pain in the eye, or an extreme over production of tears, a prescription eye medication and an eye patch may help to improve your condition.

Treatment for an infectious version of keratitis will vary depending on the type of infection you have. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor could prescribe an eye drop to treat the infection, an oral medication, or possibly both.

Keratitis Prevention

If you use contact lenses, proper hygiene, use, and disinfection are key to preventing keratitis. Always wash, rinse and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses. For contact lens care, use only sterile products that are specifically recommended for contact lens care. In addition, follow your eye care professional’s advice when cleaning and replacing your contact lenses.

Keratitis can also be avoided by preventing viral outbreaks. To control viral keratitis avoiding touching your eyes, eyelids and the skin around your eyes with unwashed hands if you have a herpes blister or a cold sore. Also, avoid the use of corticosteroid eye drops without professional prescription from a specialist.

Finally, if you use contact lenses and have experienced multiple keratitis infections, consider replacing or discontinuing your use of contact lenses to reduce your risk of reinfection.