Keratitis Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Keratitis is an eye condition caused by damage to the cornea. This is the transparent layer at the front of your eye, which plays a vital role in your vision.
If your cornea becomes inflamed, scratched or infected, it can cause permanent damage to your sight, so it’s very important not to leave keratitis untreated.
Speak to a doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms below. Our GPs will listen to your symptoms and recommend medication to treat the problem, as well as providing advice on how to avoid a repeat of your keratitis in future.
Symptoms of Keratitis
Because keratitis affects the front of your eye, it’s pretty hard 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 coloured part of your eyes.
What Causes Keratitis?
Keratitis is a reaction to another eye problem called blepharitis. This is a condition that causes your eyelids to become red, sore or inflamed. There are a number of possible reasons this could be happening.
One of the features of blepharitis is that the glands in the eye stop producing the oils that help keep your eyes moist. This can dry them out.
You might 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.
When it comes to dealing with keratitis, treating the initial blepharitis is a key step towards making you better. This is often done using eye drops, particularly to reduce the inflammation around your eyes.
There are many different 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 apply 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 anaesthetic 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.
Speak to one of our doctors to discuss your symptoms and receive expert advice on the best way to treat your keratitis. If you need a prescription, you can collect your medication as soon as possible from the most conveniently located pharmacy.
Updated: January 5, 2021