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Keratitis (Corneal Ulcers)


Keratitis is an inflammation or irritation of the cornea (the transparent membrane covering the iris and pupil) characterized by typical symptoms of red eye, foreign body sensation, pain, sensitivity to light, watery eyes, and blurred vision. While treatable, this condition is the most common cause of corneal blindness caused by infection in the United States.

There are various types of keratitis, but most commonly it occurs after an injury to the cornea, dryness or inflammation of the ocular surface or contact lens wear. The most common infectious cause is herpes simplex virus type 1, but it can also be due to varicella zoster, which is the reactivation of chicken pox virus; and the adenoviruses that cause upper respiratory infections. Less commonly, bacteria, parasites, fungi and vitamin A deficiency can cause keratitis.

Keratitis can lead to vision loss from corneal scarring.


Corneal cultures or sometimes a biopsy need to be performed for diagnosis. 


The causes of the keratitis are very diverse; therefore, the therapy varies on the basis of diagnosis. The therapy might include topical or oral medications and surgical intervention. At Wilmer, this is treated by the Ocular Surface Diseases and Dry Eye Clinic.

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