Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea — the clear, dome-shaped tissue on the front of your eye that covers the pupil and iris. Keratitis may or may not involve an infection. Noninfectious keratitis can be caused by a relatively minor injury, such as a fingernail scratch, or from wearing your contact lenses too long. Infectious keratitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
If you have eye redness or other symptoms of keratitis, make an appointment to see your doctor. With prompt attention, mild to moderate cases of keratitis can usually be effectively treated without loss of vision. If left untreated, or if an infection is severe, keratitis can lead to serious complications that may permanently damage your vision.
Signs and symptoms of keratitis include:
When to see a doctor
Causes of keratitis include:
Factors that may increase your risk of keratitis include:
Potential complications of keratitis include:
Preparing for your appointment
You may start by seeing or calling your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have eye-related signs or symptoms that worry you. Depending on the type and severity of your signs and symptoms, your doctor may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist), if necessary, after an initial exam, or you may need to go directly to an ophthalmologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For keratitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask your doctor other questions any time you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosing keratitis typically involves the following:
Treatments and drugs
If keratitis doesn't respond to medication, or if it causes permanent damage to the cornea that significantly impairs your vision, your doctor may recommend a corneal transplant.
Caring for your contact lenses
Preventing viral outbreaks
Last Updated: 2010-07-15
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