Keratitis refers to the inflammation of the clear dome shaped tissue covering the front part of one’s eye-cornea. It may either be infectious or non-infectious and sometimes not associated with an infection. Infectious keratitis are basically caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi whereas non-infectious keratitis on the other hand, may more or less be caused by minor injuries to the eye for instance, wearing contact lenses for a long time and other diseases.
Mild and normal cases of keratitis if promptly treated, one cannot lose vision. However, it can result into serious complications that may lastingly damage one’s vision should it be left untreated or if the infection becomes severe.
Keratitis is associated with complexity opening an eyelid because of pain or irritation, redness, excess tears or other discharge from the eye, unclear vision, and photophobia, a feeling of presence of a foreign body in the eye, eye pain and decreased vision. Make an appointment to see a doctor right away as any delay in diagnosis and treatment can lead to more serious complications, including blindness.
Keratitis can be caused by injuries to the cornea by allowing access to bacteria or fungi, use of dirty contact lenses that can also lead to infectious keratitis. Viruses such as herpes and those causing Chlamydia may cause keratitis; chemicals found in water like those used in swimming pools usually irritate the cornea lasting a few minutes. Bacteria, parasites and fungi in oceans, lakes and rivers can also enter one’s eyes during swimming, causing keratitis.
Factors that boost the risk of this eye infection in people include reduced immunity, warm climate, if one has had an injury to the cornea before, continuous use of un-disinfected contact lenses among others. Potential complications of keratitis to the victims’ are corneal swelling and scarring, temporary or permanent reduction in one’s vision, blindness and chronic corneal inflammation or viral infection. These complications require urgent medical attention since they can cause permanent damage to the patient’s eyes.
Treatment of infectious keratitis varies depending on the cause of the infection whereas treatment of non infectious keratitis varies depending on the cause. Nonetheless, if keratitis is caused by a scratch or extensive contact lens wear, one only requires a day’s eye patch and topical eye medications. For mild bacterial keratitis, one may only require antibacterial eye drops to treat the infection, fungal keratitis require antifungal eye drops and oral antifungal medication whereas in cases of viral keratitis, antiviral eye drops and oral antiviral medications may be effective. However, in case of permanent damage to the cornea and vision impairment, a doctor may recommend a cornea transplant.
To prevent keratitis, one should wash, rinse thoroughly and dry hands before handling the contacts, follow the eye care directives for taking care of the lenses, use sterile products that are professionally made for contact lens care, avoid rough usage of lenses that can cause scratches on them and replacing the contact lenses as recommended by the opticians.