What Is Keratitis?
Keratitis is an inflammatory disease of the cornea, the clear, dome-like outer layer of the eye. It can be caused by infection, exposure to harmful substances, or trauma. Common symptoms of keratitis include eye redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, pain, discharge, and watery eyes. Keratitis can lead to scarring and vision loss if left untreated.
Types of Keratitis
Keratitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections, as well as environmental factors. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the most common type of keratitis is bacterial keratitis, though other types include:
- Herpetic keratitis, caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 with symptoms of redness and pain
- Acanthamoeba keratitis, an infection from a free-living amoeba found in water and soil with symptoms of severe pain, decreased vision, and sensitivity to light
- Fungal keratitis, an infection caused by fungi, which can cause blurry vision, intense pain, and redness
- Allergic or chemical keratitis, which is caused by exposure to noxious substances and can cause severe inflammation, pain, and decreased vision
- Thermal or radiation keratitis, caused by exposure to extreme temperatures or radiation, resulting in corneal pain, redness, and vision loss
- Macular keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea located near the center of vision that can cause decreased vision, sensitivity to light, and pain.
How to Avoid Keratitis
Keratitis can be prevented by:
- Practicing safe contact lens care, such as cleaning lenses regularly and disposing of them according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Avoiding infectious agents such as sharing contact lenses and swimming without protective eyewear
- Wearing proper eye protection when in the presence of noxious substances and extreme temperatures or radiation
- Consulting with an ophthalmologist if eye symptoms such as redness, light sensitivity, and pain persist or worsen
Health Implications of Keratitis
Keratitis can be a serious condition and can lead to vision loss if left untreated. Additionally, keratitis can increase a person’s risk for developing glaucoma, cataracts, and even blindness. It is important to take all necessary precautions to prevent keratitis and to seek medical help if any warning signs or symptoms arise.