DEFINITION--Inflammation of the cornea (the clear central portion of the eye
that covers the pupil).
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Eye.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Both sexes; all ages.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Eye pain.
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light).
- Bacterial, viral or fungal infections. The most common is herpes simplex virus, Type I.
- Drying of the eye caused by an eyelid disorder or insufficient tear formation.
- Foreign object in the eye.
- Intense light, such as from welding arcs or the reflection of intense sunlight from snow
or water. (Symptoms may not appear for 24 hours after exposure.)
- Vitamin-A deficiency (rare in normal diet).
- Allergy or sensitivity to eye cosmetics, air pollution, airborne particles (pollen,
dust, mold or yeasts) and other allergens.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Poor nutrition, especially insufficient vitamin A.
- Illness that has lowered resistance.
- Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
- Viral infections elsewhere in the body, especially cold sores or genital herpes.
HOW TO PREVENT
- Wear protective glasses if your work involves eye hazards.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that contains sufficient vitamin A or take multiple-vitamin
supplements containing vitamin A.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Special eye exam confirms keratitis. A vision test may be performed also.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Doctor's (ophthalmologist's) treatment.
- Treatment usually involves eye medication.
- Surgery to replace the cornea (severe cases only).
- Ulceration of the cornea.
- Permanent scarring in the eye.
- Vision loss.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Depends on the cause. With early treatment, most types of
keratitis are curable.
How To Treat
GENERAL MEASURES----A temporary eye patch is often necessary. It may limit your
ability to take care of yourself.
- Your doctor may prescribe: Antibiotic or antiviral eye drops and ointments. Artificial
- Don't treat any eye inflammation without consulting your doctor. Don't use
non-prescription eye drops containing topical corticosteroids. These may worsen the
condition or cause eyeball perforation.
ACTIVITY--Eye patching will restrict activity. Resume your normal activities
DIET--No special diet.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of keratitis.
- Your vision diminishes in any way.