Keratitis

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View the Eye Diseases and Conditions Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideCommon Eye Problems and Infections

Common Eye Problems and Infections

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 occasionally 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 most 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.

What is the prognosis of keratitis?

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

Is it possible to prevent keratitis?

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.

REFERENCES:
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.

Lorenzo-Morales, J., N.A. Khan, and J. Walochnik. "An update on Acanthamoeba keratitis: diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment." Parasite 22 (2015): 10.

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 5/9/2016

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