Your eyes are the most sensitive and most important part of your body. Yet, eye health is most neglected. The amount of carefulness and concern we should show for our eyes isn’t given and so, eye problems are increasing day by day. Keratitis is one eye condition that causes redness, itchiness and pain in the eyes. This is due to inflammation in the eye that makes the cornea inflamed which could either occur due to an eye infection or injury. If you experience irritation and inflammation in the eye, get them checked and receive needful treatment.
What is Keratitis?
Your eyes have different barriers that help in self-protection. The first barrier is the cornea which is a transparent layer on the outermost of your eye. The main objective of cornea is to improve focus and provide a clear vision to the eyes. When the cornea becomes inflamed, it not only hampers vision but also causes irritation and light sensitivity, this condition is termed as keratitis. There are various causes and types of keratitis and the treatment is provided on the basis of that.
Causes of Keratitis
As per As per Dr. Hemant Todkar, Senior Ophthalmologist at Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, there are several causes and risk factors of keratitis. Read them below to understand this eye condition better.
- Eye infection- If something like a bug gets into your eye or some other thing that triggered an eye infection.
- Eye injury- if you have injured your eye or something hit your eye strongly causing damage to cornea.
- Contact lenses- Those who wear contact lenses on a regular basis and even wear them overnight, can get keratitis. Also, keeping contact lenses and lens case clean is important to prevent eye infection and inflammation.
- Herpes simplex virus or HSV- If you are down with cold or mouth sores due to HSV, you are highly likely to develop viral keratitis.
- Eye exposure to dirty water- If you swim in unclean water, you may develop keratitis.
- Dry eyes- If your eyes are drying out fastly, it could cause keratitis because of a lack of moisture in the eyes.
Types of Keratitis
Keratitis is classified into two main categories- infectious and non-infectious. Within these, other classifications are made.
The various types of infectious keratitis are:
- Viral keratitis which is caused HSV
- Bacterial keratitis caused by bacterial infection due to wearing unclean contact lenses
- Fungal keratitis caused due to eye injury
- Parasitic keratitis caused by parasites present in water bodies
The various types of non-infectious keratitis are:
- Injury to the cornea
- Eye allergy
- Wearing contact lenses for a longer time period
- Light sensitivity
- Deficiency of vitamin A
- Dry eyes or lack of moisture inside the eyes
What are the symptoms of Keratitis?
- The common symptoms of keratitis condition are:
- Painful eyes
- Inflammation around the cornea
- Blurred vision
- Red and irritated eyes
- Watery discharge along with itching
- Light sensitivity or photophobia
- Feels like something is stuck in the eye
If a person has keratitis and it is not treated on time, certain complications may be faced by them. These are:
- Permanent scarring in the eye
- Ulcers on the cornea
- Temporary loss of vision
- Permanent Blindness
Treatment of Keratitis
As already mentioned earlier, the treatment for keratitis is provided according to the type of keratitis and its severity. The possible measures to treat keratitis at the initial level are explained below:
- Antibacterial Eye Drops- These are given to people who have contracted bacterial keratitis.
- Antibiotics- In some cases of serious keratitis, the person is prescribed antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection from spreading.
- Steroid eye drops- If the keratitis condition is severe than expected, steroid eye drops are given.
- Antifungal medications- People who have got fungal keratitis are prescribed antifungal medicines. They may require surgery if the condition is not improved.
- Antiviral medicines- In cases of viral keratitis caused by herpes simplex virus, antiviral medications help. However, viral keratitis may recur.
- Parasitic keratitis is the most dangerous of all as there is no oral or topical solution to treat this case, only surgery can be performed to save the eyes of the person.
If you see symptoms persist even after taking the prescribed medicines, you must see a doctor immediately. This would help in analysing the condition and taking immediate steps to resolve the problem. If you don’t see a doctor, you may experience blurred vision, increased inflammation and white spots on the cornea. Treat or prevent, but do it proactively.
How to prevent keratitis?
If you fall under the risk category of keratitis, you must take these steps to reduce the risk of keratitis:
- Keep your contact lenses clean. Also, sterilise the lens case regularly with a contact lens solution only.
- Do not sleep wearing your contact lenses. Take them out before going to bed and wash your eyes.
- Learn lens hygiene and care tips from doctors including how to wear, storing lenses, cleaning lenses, etc.
- Before and after touching contact lenses, wash your hands. Touch contact lenses with dry hands only.
- Do not wear contact lenses while bathing or swimming.
- Wear glasses or eye-protecting gear if you are working with trees whose branches may injure your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses while going out in the sun if your eyes are photo-sensitive.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin A as it promotes eye health
Keratitis is not a common eye problem but it can affect anyone especially people who wear contact lenses. It is important to prevent this condition by exercising the necessary steps. You must take proper care of your eyes to have a great vision throughout your life.
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