Bacterial Keratitis: The Number 1 Sight-Stealer Of Contact Lens Wearer

Bacterial KeratitisYou Don't Want It In Your Eyes

Bacterial keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea caused by infection of bacteria.

It occurs when the surface of the cornea is bleached, allowing the bacteria to infect the underlying tissues.

This type of keratitis affects approximately 25,000 people in the United States annually and it is the most potential complication of contact lens wearing and corneal refractive surgeries

Bacteria most frequently responsible for keratitis include HemophilusStreptococcusEnterobacteriaceae, and Staphylococcus species.

Bacterial keratitis usually develops quickly and cause ulceration as the bacteria carves out the corneal tissue.

Some bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, are so aggressive that they are capable of ‘eating’ their way entirely through the cornea, causing perforation. 

Cornea ScarringCornea Scarring

Once the infection affects the deeper layers of the cornea, scarring may remain even if you have recovered completely from the keratitis.

Depending on the size and location of the scar, it may or may not affect your vision.

Possible complications include irregular astigmatism and if severe, permanent blindness.




Symptoms And Signs

To prevent permanent sight loss, you should see your eye doctor to get treated immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms.

Especially if they appear suddenly.

  • Excessive discharge from your eye
  • Reduced vision
  • Sudden pain in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes

See a doctor immediately as delayed treatment can cause blindness. 


Causes

Bacterial keratitis occurs when the corneal surface is breached. This can be caused by several factors which include:

  • Prolonged period of wearing contact lens - Most common cause of trauma towards the cornea epithelium.
  • Sleep in contacts - Covered eyes provide a warm environment for bacteria to thrive.
  • Eye Trauma (including previous corneal surgery) - Damaged cornea is more susceptible to bacterial infection.
  • Recent corneal disease - Such as herpetic keratitis.
  • Using of contaminated eye products - For example  contact lens solutions, contact lens cases or ocular medications.
  • Reduced immunity function - Due to alcoholism, heavy smoking, diabetes, poor nutrition, and medical treatment like chemotherapy. This causes the body to be unable to fight against bacterial infection as effectively.




Treatment Of Bacterial Keratitis

To examine whether the keratitis is caused by bacterial or fungal, the eye doctor will have to gently scrape your cornea for biopsy.

This is important as a wrong course of treatment can aggravate the condition.

Once confirmed, bacterial keratitis is usually treated with antibiotic drops and you may need to see your eye doctor frequently depending on the severity of the condition.

Be prepared for frequent application of the eye drops too. 

Sometimes, your eye doctor may also recommend using steroids to speed up recovery.

This has to be considered seriously as using of steroids have always been controversial in regards to its effectiveness.

You may want to seek advice from different doctors before deciding whether to use steroids.

During the healing process, you should remove and avoid wearing contact lens to avoid further irritation and infection.

If you are a contact lens wearer, learning the proper contact lenses management techniques is important to prevent a keratitis infection.

See my article on Fatal Mistakes Of Contact Lens Wearers for tips on how to maintain good contact lens hygiene. 


Related Readings:

› Bacterial Keratitis