Tuesday, November 23

What is Keratitis? Symptoms and causes

What is Keratitis?

Keratitis - Symptoms and causes

keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, which is the transparent outermost layer of the eye that covers the pupil and iris. It is the most common type of eye inflammation (the colored ring around the pupil). Keratitis is most commonly caused by an infection or an injury to the cornea.

The following are the causes of Keratitis bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections. Infectious keratitis can occur as a result of corneal damage. However, an injury might inflame the cornea without causing a subsequent infection.

Viral keratitis is quite frequent, and the viruses that cause it include the following:

Adenovirus, one of the viruses that cause upper respiratory infections.

This is the same virus that causes cold sores, and it can lead to shingles.

Varicella-zoster (commonly known as shingles) is a herpes virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.

Bacterial keratitis is a less common cause of keratitis than viral keratitis. In developed countries, parasitic and fungal keratitis are uncommon.

Infectious keratitis typically begins on the cornea's outer layer, but it can progress deeper into the cornea, increasing the risk of vision impairment.

Keratitis that is not infectious is a symptom of several autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome.

Keratitis can arise as a result of trauma to the front of the eye, such as with improperly fitting contact lenses, corneal surgery (including LASIK surgery), or any other lesion to the cornea.

Contact lens wearers are at an elevated risk of developing infectious keratitis. If a person suspects that he or she is getting an eye infection, lens usage should be discontinued immediately.


Among the symptoms of keratitis are the following:

The appearance of a red eye
A sensation of something in the eye, such as sand
Susceptibility to light
Eyes that are wet
Vision blurred
Opening the eyelids is difficult.

When keratitis is caused by an injury or infection, such as the herpes simplex virus, it usually affects just one eye; however, when keratitis is caused by another cause, both eyes may be affected.


Your health care provider will inquire about your symptoms, vision, and general health. Your doctor or an eye expert will examine the surface of the cornea using a magnifying device to check for a microscopic ulcer produced by a viral infection. When caused by herpes simplex, this ulcer sends out star-like branches and is most seen after a dye is used to briefly tint the cornea. Infection of the cornea with Herpes simplex may be followed by infection of the eyelid. On the eyelid, small, painful blisters resembling lip cold sores may form.

Additionally, your physician may:

Evaluate your visual acuity and clarity (visual acuity)
Assesses your pupil's sensitivity to light.
Examine your eye with a slit lamp, a specialized device.
Gently swab inside the eyelid to obtain a sample for culturing in the laboratory.

Healing Duration

It is usually possible to recover from viral or bacterial-induced keratitis within a couple of days. Antiviral medicine or antibiotics are used to treat herpes keratitis and bacterial keratitis, respectively. Keratitis caused by other viruses, on the other hand, normally resolves on its own within a few days.

When keratitis is caused only by the use of contact lenses, the condition tends to be mild and short-lived.

Keratitis caused by an inflammatory condition, some parasites, or a previous injury can be difficult to treat and can linger for a lengthy period of time if left untreated (chronic). The cornea may become permanently damaged in some circumstances, resulting in decreased vision even after intensive treatment has been administered.


By avoiding eye injury by wearing sunglasses and other suitable eye gear as needed, you can reduce your risk of developing keratitis.

If you have a cold sore, avoid putting your fingers near your eyes, since this could transmit the infection even more quickly. Using steroid eye drops if you have any indication that you have the herpes simplex virus can be risky because they can worsen the condition.

Other causes of keratitis may be avoided with proper contact lens cleaning, a well-balanced diet, and the use of moisturizing eye drops.


The treatment of keratitis is dependent on the underlying cause. There is no need for treatment if the cornea is only lightly damaged, such as by a scratch. It is possible that an antibiotic ointment will be recommended. This is done mostly for the sake of comfort.

Antiviral eye drops or an antiviral oral drug, or a combination of both, will be prescribed by your doctor if your keratitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus or the herpes zoster virus (which causes shingles). Antibiotics are required for the treatment of bacterial keratitis. Depending on the severity of the illness, an oral antibiotic, as well as an antibiotic ointment or eye drops, may be administered.

Keratitis caused by dry eyes is frequently treated with artificial tears. Treatment for keratitis caused by an autoimmune condition is frequently accomplished by the use of topical corticosteroid eye drops. Additionally, addressing the underlying condition aids in the healing of the keratitis and reduces the likelihood of recurrence.

When Should You Speak to A doctor?

When it comes to the severity of keratitis, there are no hard and fast rules. If you notice any symptoms, call your doctor right away, especially if you are experiencing discomfort or have visual problems. You may be referred immediately to an eye specialist, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Eye specialists have specialized equipment for diagnosing and treating eye disorders.

Frequently asked questions

Which of the following is the most common cause of keratitis?

Viruses are the most prevalent cause, however bacteria and chemicals can also contribute. 

What is the best antibiotic eye drops?

To the best of our knowledge, the four most effective medications for treating acute bacterial infections in adults are bacitracin/polymyxin B/neomycin; tobramycin; 0.6 percent besifloxacin; and 1.5 percent levofloxacin.

Is keratitis treatable?

The infection can also create scarring on the surface of your cornea if it spreads beyond the surface of your cornea, which can impair your eyesight and, in severe circumstances, even cause blindness.

Is it possible to get blind from keratitis? 

Make an appointment with your doctor straight away if you see any of the signs or symptoms of keratitis. Delays in keratitis diagnosis and treatment can result in serious complications, including blindness.

What exactly is the difference between conjunctivitis and keratitis? 

Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, which is the clear dome that covers the iris and pupil of the eye. Keratitis is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the cornea. Conjunctivitis is a condition in which the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, as in the case of red-eye. That is the thin membrane that covers the white component of the eye as well as the inner surface of the eyelid. Pink eye is another name for conjunctivitis.

How long does it take for a corneal irritant to heal completely? 

Superficial corneal abrasions heal quickly, usually in two or three days. Some corneal abrasions may necessitate a longer-lasting antibiotic ointment, a steroid to reduce inflammation, and something to treat discomfort and light sensitivity. 

Is keratitis surgically treatable? 

To summarize, surgical intervention is frequently required to manage the infection and maintain structural integrity in infectious keratitis. The sort of surgical intervention used is determined by the location, size, and etiology of the infection and must be tailored to the needs of the particular patient.


Additional Information
National Eye Institute

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