Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea – the clear membrane above the pupil and the colored part of the eye. Keratitis is also referred to as corneal ulcers.
Inflammation of the cornea can result from injury and infection. Keratitis can become severe in a short period of time. The complications may include the formation of scar tissue on the cornea, cornea injury, decreased vision, and more.
Symptoms of keratitis are generally characterized by sensitivity to light, eye redness, a feeling that something is in your eye, and visual disturbances.
Causes of Keratitis
The primary cause of keratitis is an injured cornea. Injuries can occur due to several factors, such as wearing contact lenses, scratches by foreign objects, and chemicals.
Wearing contact lenses is the most common reason for keratitis. This occurs when the patient wears contaminated contact lenses or over-wear the lens.
Keratitis can also occur due to external factors such as exposure to sunlight for too long and causing dry eyes. Moreover, autoimmune diseases can also trigger keratitis.
Keratitis can be infectious though the transmission only occurs if you touch your eyes with dirty hands.
In some cases, keratitis is also caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites:
- Viral infection — occurs if you have other diseases such as chicken pox, herpes, or the flu. When you have the disease, avoid using your hands to touch your eyes.
- Bacterial infection — a relatively rare cause, but usually affects people who regularly wear contact lenses. Bacteria will grow on poorly cleaned and poorly stored contact lenses. These bacteria can also appear after eye surgery.
- Parasite called acanthamoeba — this parasite lives everywhere, including in tap water. Although not dangerous, it can cause infection if it gets into your eye.
When to See a Doctor for Keratitis?
You can consult an ophthalmologist about keratitis. The specialist doctor will make a diagnosis by examining the wound in the cornea. In addition, the bottom of your eye will be swiped to get a sample, which will later be tested in the laboratory
Avoid wearing contact lenses during the consultation.
If the doctor suspects that the keratitis is the result of another disease, you will be advised to undergo a series of blood tests.
Symptoms of Keratitis
Initial symptoms of keratitis include eye pain and redness. You will feel a burning sensation in your eyes as if there is something in your eye.
In acute keratitis, the symptoms will get worse and you may be unable to open your eyes.
When exposed to light, you will feel more pain in your eye. Other symptoms include:
- Decreased vision
- Excess tears
- Swollen eye
The symptoms of keratitis are similar to those of other eye diseases. To confirm the condition you are experiencing, seek immediate consultation with an ophthalmologist.
Treatment for Keratitis
If keratitis is caused by an injury to the cornea, the symptoms may resolve on their own over time. To prevent infection and relieve the pain, your doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics.
Patients with keratitis caused by infection will be given eye drops containing antibiotics and antivirals.
In some cases, eye ointments and drops do not work to treat keratitis. If this happens, the doctor will prescribe tablets for you to consume.
Medicines to treat keratitis include:
- Antiviral medication to treat viral keratitis from other diseases, such as herpes or chickenpox.
- Antibiotics to treat keratitis due to bacterial infections.
- Antifungal medications to treat keratitis due to fungal infections.
Your doctor will prescribe the medications based on your condition and the cause of the keratitis symptoms.
Keratitis is not a life-threatening disease. The treatments are simple and able to be resolved in a short time. However, if the infection gets worse, it can potentially cause more severe injury and damage to vision.
Treatment Cost for Keratitis
The cost for keratitis treatment varies – depending on the symptoms, causes, treatment method chosen and the patient’s medical history.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of keratitis treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Keratitis
Keratitis, particularly bacterial keratitis, can be prevented. Preventive measures include:
- Always wash your hands before touching your eyes, especially when you are sick.
- Avoid sleeping while wearing contact lenses.
- Avoid swimming and showering while wearing contact lenses.
- Always wash contact lenses with a cleaner, and store contact lenses in a clean place.
- Never store contact lenses with tap water.
- Routinely replace contact lenses and storage boxes
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Keratitis
Keratitis patients can be treated at home without having to be hospitalized. Home care treatments for keratitis include monitoring your eye health condition and applying medications as prescribed by your doctor.
It is recommended that you regularly use eye drops from your doctor. If there are complications or discomfort, talk to your doctor immediately.
For people with keratitis due to contaminated contact lenses – avoid wearing contact lenses for a few days and replace your contact lenses with new ones immediately. Remember to always clean your contact lenses and storage boxes before use.
Be careful when showering and washing your face. Parasites in tap water can trigger corneal infections and cause keratitis.
Keratitis patients who are required to take tablets must undergo a series of regular treatments as recommended by the doctor, including using eye drops.