Corneal Infection – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Cornea is the outermost lens of the eye and overlies the Iris. It acts like a barrier that controls and focuses the entry of light in the eye. While it can effectively resist any infection, it is prone to infections and damage easily. It can be a poke in the eye or inflammation due to an infection. Cornea has no blood vessels to shield from the infection.

It is caused when any foreign object damages the cornea. It is also called Corneal Ulcer or Keratitis. Corneal Ulcer is an open sore on the cornea that can have an inflammatory effect on the cornea. It can be caused by different foreign objects or reasons. Contact Lens Wearers have a huge risk of developing corneal infection.

Let’s look at what can cause the infection.

Causes of Corneal Infection

Corneal Infection or Ulcer can be caused by the following infections-

  • Bacterial Infections

There have been cases of people extending their wear of disposable lenses or sleeping with their contacts in. If contact lenses are worn during sleeping, they will block the flow of oxygen to the cornea and give birth to bacteria. Repurpose of contact lens or contact lens solution can be a breeding ground for bacterial infections.

  • Viral Infections

Viral Infections including Herpes simplex keratitis or varicella virus can cause corneal infection. Herpes simplex keratitis causes repeated flare-ups in the eyes.

  • Fungal Infections

These infections are caused after an injury involving plants or any plant material. It can also be seen in people with weak immune systems.

  • Parasitic Infections

Parasites such as amoeba can be a contributing factor. This is mostly seen in people who wear contact lenses. One of the complications evoked by this infection, even though rare, is blindness. This infection is caused when one forgets to remove their lens before swimming or water based activities.

  • Disorders & Cuts

Any disorder that causes dry eye or affects eyelids, can  cause corneal infection.

Cuts or scratches in the cornea can lead to this infection. Especially when materials like glass, wood, steel etc strikes through the cornea and can induce trauma.

Other Risk Factors that can cause corneal infections are-

  • Steroid Eye drops
  • Chemical contact from the lens solution
  • Inflammatory Disorders
  • Immune Deficiency
  • Severe Dry Eyes

 Corneal Infection Symptoms & Signs

 Following are some signs & symptoms of what corneal infection can cause-

  • Redness in the eye
  • Severe Pain
  • Welling up or tears in the eye
  • Blurry Vision & Swellings
  • Decreased Vision
  • Pus or thick discharge from the eye
  • Painful sensitivity to light

In addition to the above symptoms, one can develop a round white spot around the cornea.  In case a person feels any of these symptoms, they should immediately consult a doctor for an eye check-up.

How to get rid of Corneal Infection?

 When one goes for consultation with the doctor regarding their infection, a test is done to determine corneal infection. Once you have been diagnosed with Corneal Infection, the doctor discusses some ways in which they can treat the infection. Based on the cause, some options available for Corneal Infection treatment are-

  • Through Medication-

Medications are given on the basis of the cause. Doctors might prescribe antifungal, antibacterial or antiviral eye drops.

Painkillers or drops to widen your pupil might also be suggested by the doctor.

  • Through Surgery-

 Corneal infections might take multiple treatments to cure properly. If corneal infection is not treated at the earliest, it can develop corneal scarring. In this case, one might need Corneal Transplant. In this, the affected cornea is replaced with a healthy cornea of a deceased person.

There are a few things that should be avoided during the surgery

  • Contact lenses
  • Make up & fragrances
  • Continuously touching of eyes
  • Scratching or rubbing of eyes
  • Intake of other medications

How can corneal infection be prevented?

While Corneal Infection is treatable, it is better to avoid any risk associated with it. There can be complications even after the treatment. Hence it is important to be aware of its preventive measures.

Some preventive measures include-

  • Refrain from sleeping with your contacts in.
  • Always clean and sterilize your lenses, before and after use.
  • Make sure to handle lenses with clean and dry hands.
  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes.
  • Remove contact lenses if you find any discomfort in your eyes
  • Protect your eyes during any dangerous activity.
  • Avoid any activity that can cause eye injury.

Contact Lens Wearers are at a high risk. Hence, it is very important to follow every instruction provided by the doctor. Leave your lenses in the contact lens solution overnight. Steer clear from any kind of bacteria or virus.

Long Term Follow-up

After the suitable treatment performed by the doctor, one needs to go for follow-up check ups on a regular basis. Even though corneal infections are treatable, one can still be at a risk of loss of vision. You can expect reduced vision after getting treated.

Always consult your doctor before taking part in any adventurous activity. In case of any severe complications in symptoms, immediately schedule an eye check up.

Corneal Infection can easily be prevented with proper hygiene and safety. Follow all the measures to have a healthy vision.

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