Keratitis is an eye condition that is caused by damage to the cornea. This is the transparent layer at the front of your eye, which plays an important role in providing vision.
If your cornea becomes inflamed, scratched or infected, it can cause permanent damage to your sight, so it’s very necessary not to leave keratitis untreated.
What causes Keratitis?
Keratitis is a reaction which is caused by another eye problem called blepharitis. This is a condition that causes your eyelids to become red, sore or inflamed.
One of the features of blepharitis is that the glands in the eye stop producing the oils which help to keep your eyes moist. This can dry them out.
You can also experience a bacterial infection, or develop dermatitis in your eyelids. Very occasionally, keratitis can be caused by a scratched cornea.
Another possible trigger for blepharitis, and therefore keratitis too, is not using contact lenses properly. If you’re wearing them overnight, not changing them frequently enough, not storing them properly or not cleaning them enough, these are all factors that could damage your eyes and leave you susceptible to conditions like keratitis.
Symptoms of Keratitis
Because keratitis affects the front of your eye, it’s very difficult to miss the symptoms. Speak to a doctor immediately if you experience any of these problems:
- Pain in your eye (this can be particularly severe if your cornea becomes infected)
- Sensitivity to light
- Problems with your vision, e.g. blurring
- Dry eyes
- Red eyes
- Watering eyes
- Discharge from your eyes
You might also feel as though you have something in your eye. This could be an ulcer, so you should see a doctor about this as soon as possible. If it’s an ulcer, you might even be able to see it as a pale dot within the colored part of your eyes.
Treatment of Keratitis
When it comes to dealing with keratitis, treating the initial blepharitis is a key step towards making you better. This is mostly done using eye drops, particularly to reduce the inflammation around your eyes.
There are many different kinds of eye drops available. Your doctor will need to discover the underlying cause of your dry eyes in order to prescribe the most effective product.
Depending on the severity of your keratitis, you may need to use these eye drops several times a day at first. You will probably also need to stop wearing contact lenses temporarily.
If you have an ulcer in your eye, a specialist may need to take a sample of it under local anesthetic to determine what should happen next.
In milder cases of keratitis, the condition can be managed at home by applying a warm flannel to the affected area. Your doctor might suggest eyelid massaging exercises, or ask you to gently clean the inside of the lids with a cotton bud.