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Keratitis is a condition in which the eye's cornea, the clear dome on the front surface of the eye, becomes inflamed. The condition is often marked by moderate to intense pain and usually involves any of the following symptoms: pain, impaired eyesight, photophobia (light sensitivity), red eye and a 'gritty' sensation.

Classification (by chronicity)

Slit Lamp biomicroscopy of filamentary keratitis



Classification (infective)


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Dendritic corneal ulcer after fluorescein staining under cobalt blue illumination
Adenoviral keratitis of a 24-year-old woman




Acanthamoeba keratitis
  • Amoebic infection of the cornea is a serious corneal infection, often affecting contact lens wearers. It is usually caused by Acanthamoeba. On May 25, 2007, the U.S. Center for Disease Control issued a health advisory due to increased risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis associated with use of Advanced Medical Optics Complete Moisture Plus Multi-Purpose eye solution.


Classification (by stage of disease)

Classification (by environmental aetiology)


Treatment depends on the cause of the keratitis. Infectious keratitis can progress rapidly, and generally requires urgent antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral therapy to eliminate the pathogen. Antibacterial solutions include levofloxacin, gatifloxacin, moxifloxacin, ofloxacin. It is unclear if steroid eye drops are useful or not.

In addition, contact lens wearers are typically advised to discontinue contact lens wear and replace contaminated contact lenses and contact lens cases. (Contaminated lenses and cases should not be discarded as cultures from these can be used to identify the pathogen).

Aciclovir is the mainstay of treatment for HSV keratitis and steroids should be avoided at all costs in this condition. Application of steroids to a dendritic ulcer caused by HSV will result in rapid and significant worsening of the ulcer to form an 'amoeboid' or 'geographic' ulcer, so named because of the ulcer's map like shape.


Some infections may scar the cornea to limit vision. Others may result in perforation of the cornea, endophthalmitis (an infection inside the eye), or even loss of the eye. With proper medical attention, infections can usually be successfully treated without long-term visual loss.

In non-humans

See also