Keratitis, which refers to a medical condition of the eyes, is characterised by inflammation of the cornea. This is a painful condition accompanied with redness of the eye and may sometimes affect vision as well. People who recently had an eye infection or injury are more susceptible to develop keratitis.
Depending upon the cause of the problem, keratitis is basically categorised into two types, i.e., infectious keratitis and non-infectious keratitis. The causes associated with infectious keratitis include bacterial, fungal, viral and/or parasitic infection. The non-infectious causes of keratitis include using contact lenses for a long time, allergic reactions to some cosmetic products or pollutants, eye injury, deficiency of vitamin A, prolonged exposure to intense sunlight, presence of foreign particles in the eye, quick drying out of eye and others.
Keratitis can get serious and may even lead to severe complications if left untreated for a long time. Pain in the affected eye is the key symptom of keratitis. The other symptoms of this problem include eye redness, excess discharge of tears from the eye, photophobia (developing sensitivity to light), vision problem, blurred vision, irritation, feeling like the presence of some particle within the eye, difficulty in keeping eyelids open and others. It is important to consult an ophthalmologist or an eye doctor immediately, if a person is seen to have such symptoms, in order to prevent further complications.
The diagnosis of keratitis involves observation of the cornea of the patient using slit lamp. Moreover, the doctor may also feel the need of going through past medical history of the patient as well as other physical examinations of the eyes along with thorough checking of vision. In case, an infection is suspected to be the cause of keratitis, the doctor might also recommend for laboratory examination of a culture collected from the surface of the eye. Once the cause of keratitis of the patient is confirmed, the treatment begins.
Once the cause and the severity of keratitis is appropriately determined, the treatment is given accordingly. In case of mild injury to the cornea, no particular treatment as such is required. An antibiotic ointment may be prescribed by the doctor in order to comfort the affected eyes. If a person is having keratitis and he uses contact lens then he/she should avoid wearing the lenses as long as the condition is not fully cured.
If viral infection, due to herpes simplex or herpes zoster virus, is diagnosed to be the cause of keratitis, then the doctor may prescribe an antiviral eye drop or oral antiviral medications or even both. For patients having keratitis due to bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat this condition. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotic ointments or eye drops, depending on the severity of the condition.
Keratitis caused due to ocular dryness may be treated using eye drops that help in lubricating the eyes. If autoimmune disease leads to this problem, then such conditions of keratitis can be cured with the help of topical corticosteroid eye drops. Moreover, treatment of the underlying cause that has led to this condition helps in treating keratitis and also prevents its reoccurrence.
The seriousness of this eye problem varies widely and it is very much necessary to consult a doctor during the initial days when the symptoms appear. Keratitis may lead to further complications, if it is left untreated for a long time and can even result in loss of vision. With early treatment, complete recovery from this problem is possible. However, in some cases, the problem might be seen to persist even after complete treatment. In case keratitis leads to severe damage to the eye, leading to impaired vision, then the doctor may even recommend for corneal transplant if necessary.
Keratitis may occur due to eye infection or injury or both. Any person suffering from pain in their eyes or other symptoms like eye redness, excess discharge of tears from the eye, photophobia (developing sensitivity to light), vision problem, blurred vision, irritation, feeling like the presence of some particle within the eye, difficulty in keeping eyelids open and others are considered as eligible for this treatment. It is important to note that an early treatment helps in complete cure of this problem. Keratitis if left untreated may lead to severe complications in the near future.
Any individual, who is not suffering from eye pain or any other symptoms related to keratitis, is not eligible for this treatment.
There are no pronounced side effects of the treatment of keratitis. However, a few patients are found to show allergic reactions against atropine and other drug preservatives. A few people who are treated with the drug 5-iodo-2'-deoxyuridine may show side effects like contact dermatitis, follicular conjunctivitis and punctate keratopathy. Patients treated with trifluorothymidine generally have side effects like contact dermatitis and follicular conjunctivitis. Patients treated with acyclovir showed punctate keratopathy as a side effect. On the other hand, patients who were treated with adenine arabinoside do not show any side effects. Switching to another drug is highly recommended if any patient is seen to have side effects from a particular treatment of keratitis.
The problem of keratitis is generally treated using medications which are available in the form of eye-drops or oral pills. In order to reduce eye inflammation, steroids are prescribed which are also available in the form of eye drops. The post treatment guidelines for patients who have undergone the treatment for keratitis include taking the various medicines or eye drops regularly on time as directed by the doctor, looking out for symptoms of possible side effects and consulting with the doctor in case of need, using contact lenses properly and keeping them hygienic, maintaining personal hygiene and washing hands regularly, wearing protective glasses while going outdoor, contacting the doctor immediately in case of any problem in vision or if the pain in eyes persist.
The time of recovery for patients having keratitis mainly depends on the severity or intensity of the infection. Patients, who are suffering from keratitis due to mild injury, do not require any medical treatment as such and recovers within a short period of time, under proper care. In cases of keratitis caused due to bacterial, fungal, parasitic or viral infection, the situation starts improving within the first 28 to 48 hours of treatment. After that the inflammation of the cornea gradually goes away within a few days. However, in case of serious infections it may even take about a few weeks’ time for complete recovery.
The cost of treatment of keratitis varies in different parts of India. Moreover, the price of treatment also varies depending upon the medications prescribed by the doctor and the severity of the infection that has occurred. On an average, the total cost of treatment for keratitis ranges from Rs. 11,380 to Rs. 56,990. This treatment is easily available in almost all eye hospitals in India.
Keratitis, an infection of the cornea of eye, can become severe enough and might even threaten vision, if left untreated. However, with immediate treatment, keratitis can be completely cured without any complications in future as such. If this condition is found to occur due to some other underlying causes, then the treatment of the underlying cause may help to cure and prevent the reoccurrence of keratitis as well.