Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.
Corneal ulcers and infections
Alternative namesBacterial keratitis; Fungal keratitis; Acanthamoeba keratitis; Herpes simplex keratitis
DefinitionA non-penetrating erosion or open sore in the outer layer of the cornea, the transparent area at the front of the eyeball. See also corneal injury .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by an infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi or amoebae. Other causes are abrasions or foreign bodies, inadequate eyelid closure, severely dry eyes, severe allergic eye disease, and various inflammatory disorders.
Fungal keratitis can occur after a corneal injury involving plant material, or in immunosuppressed people. Acanthamoeba keratitis occurs in contact lens users, especially those who attempt to make their own homemade cleaning solutions.
Signs and tests
Treating corneal ulcers and infections depends on the cause. They should be treated as soon as possible to prevent further injury to the cornea. Broad antibiotic coverage is started and then more specific antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal eye drops are prescribed (as soon as the agent which causes the ulcer has been identified).
Corticosteroid eye drops may be used to reduce inflammation in certain conditions. Severe ulcers may need to be treated with corneal transplantation.
Untreated, a corneal ulcer or infection can permanently damage the cornea. Untreated corneal ulcers may also perforate the eye, resulting in spread of the infection inside, increasing the risk of permanent visual impairment.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if impaired vision or eye pain occur.
Prompt, early attention by an ophthalmologist for an eye infection may prevent the condition from worsening to the point of ulceration. Wash hands and pay rigorous attention to cleanliness while handling contact lenses, and avoid wearing contact lenses overnight.
Update Date: 11/5/2002Raymond S. Douglas M.D., Ph.D. Department of Ophthalmology, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT