Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, the front structure of the eye. The cornea is made of transparent, avascular tissue and its main feature is its transparency which allows light and images to pass through to the inside of the eye. Keratitis can be superficial (only affecting the epithelium) or ulcerative (affecting deeper layers of the cornea).
Superficial keratitis is the most common and normally improves without leaving any scars, while ulcerative keratitis can be very serious in some cases and cause scarring on the cornea, requiring a corneal transplant.
Keratitis can appear due to many causes such as infections (bacteria, fungal infections, amoeba, parasites and viruses), ocular dryness, exposure, staphylococcal hypersensitivity or residual corneal foreign body, among others.
Bacteria are the most common cause of infectious keratitis. Unless demonstrated otherwise, it is generally supposed that corneal infections are due to bacteria. These infections can be very serious. Accurate diagnosis is very important, as well as prompt, appropriate treatment to control them.
Keratitis causes pain, watery eyes, red eye, light sensitivity, reduced vision, secretion and acute intolerance to contact lenses.
Treatment is specific to the aetiology. It's very important to consult an ophthalmologist as soon as the first symptoms appear. In many cases the prognosis will depend on the right treatment being started quickly.