What Causes Keratitis?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2019
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Keratitis refers to inflammations, infections or deterioration of the corneas. It has numerous causes. No matter what the cause, early treatment is essential to preserve sight and prevent permanent or further damage to the corneas.

Viruses cause some forms of keratitis. Some viruses indicated in keratitis are Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, rubella, measles, and mumps. Though very rare, mononucleosis may also cause keratitis.

Certain bacteria may also be responsible for producing keratitis. Exposure to either staphylococcus and streptococcus when left untreated, can cause significant damage to the eyes. If one suspects eye infections, a doctor will usually prescribe drop antibiotics to prevent bacteria from attacking the corneal tissue.

Sometimes, keratitis develops as a reaction to certain antibiotics, or when antibiotics cause harmful fungi to develop. Treatment for fungal infections generally involves oral doses of anti-fungal medications. Fungal infections are common in those with immunosuppressive illnesses, and also those who wear contacts overnight.

Parasitic infections have been noted to occasionally affect the eyes. In these cases, parasites are often passed to the eyes through a lapse in hygiene. A person who does not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and subsequently rubs the eyes, may pass parasites to the eyes. Contact lens wearers are also more at risk for parasitic infections. In the case of both fungal and parasitic infections, risk can be reduced by removing lenses at night and by carefully cleaning lenses before each use.


Those who suffer from severe allergies or who have chronic dry eye syndrome have an increased risk factor for developing most of the above types of keratitis. Drops to help reduce irritation in eyes for those with allergies, or to help produce tears may lubricate the eye properly and help people avoid keratitis.

Another cause of keratitis is traumatic eye injury, or surgery on the eyes. Symptoms of these and other types of keratitis tend to be extremely painful eyes, and sensitivity to light. For those who believe they have developed keratitis, contacting a doctor immediately is important. Surgery must frequently be performed to removed damaged tissue before it can scar and impact sight.



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