Keratitis (cont.)

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What is the treatment for keratitis?

Treatment depends on the cause of the keratitis. Infectious keratitis generally requires antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral therapy to treat the infection. This treatment can involve prescription eyedrops, pills, or even intravenous therapy. Any corneal or conjunctival foreign body should be removed. Wetting drops may be used if disturbance of the tears is suspected to be the cause of the keratitis. Steroid drops may be prescribed occaisionally to reduce inflammation and limit scarring. This must be done carefully and judiciously, since some infections can be worsened with their use.

Contact-lens wearers are typically advised to discontinue contact-lens wear, whether or not the lenses are related to the cause of the keratitis.

What are the possible complications of keratitis?

Superficial keratitis involves the superficial layers of the cornea and commonly does not lead to scarring. More extensive keratitis involves deeper layers of the cornea, and a scar may develop upon healing. This will affect the vision if the central portion of the cornea is involved. With severe ulcerative keratitis, the cornea may perforate, which is an extremely serious situation.

With proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment including follow-up care, keratitis can usually be managed without causing permanent visual disturbances.

Can keratitis be prevented?

The risk of keratitis can be reduced through the use of precautions to avoid eye injury, careful contact-lens care including proper cleaning of contact lens cases, and the prompt treatment of early ocular symptoms.

Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology

Acharya, N.R., M. Srinivasan, J. Mascarenhas, et al. "The Steroid Controversy in Bacterial Keratitis." Arch Ophthalmol. 127.9 Sept. 2009: 1231.

American Academy of Ophthalmology Cornea/External Disease Panel, Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. "Bacterial Keratitis." San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 2008.

Morgan, P.B., N. Efron, N.A. Brennan, et al. "Risk Factors for the Development of Corneal Infiltrative Events Associated With Contact Lens Wear." Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 46.9 Sept. 2005: 3136-3143.

Poggio, E.C., R.J. Glynn, and O.D. Schein. "The Incidence of Ulcerative Keratitis Among Users of Daily-Wear and Extended-Wear Soft Contact Lenses." N Engl J Med. 321.12 Sept. 21, 1989: 779-783.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

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