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    What Is Bacterial Keratitis?

    Written By:
    Reviewed By: James M Huffman, MD
    Apr. 26, 2021

    Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window of the front of your eye.

    Bacterial keratitis usually develops quickly. Left untreated it can cause blindness.

    There are many different bacteria that cause keratitis. The two bacteria most commonly responsible for this type of infection in the U.S. are:

    • Staphylococcus aureus
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    Bacterial Keratitis Symptoms

    Symptoms of bacterial keratitis may include:

    Call your ophthalmologist right away if you have any of these symptoms. This is especially important if they come on suddenly. If not treated, a bacterial keratitis eye infection can lead to blindness. Treatment must start right away to prevent vision loss.

    What Causes Bacterial Keratitis?

    The two main causes of bacterial keratitis are:

    You risk getting an infection from contact lenses if you wear them too long or do not take care of them correctly. Proper care of your contacts will lower your risk of developing a corneal infection.

    Bacterial Keratitis Diagnosis and Treatment

    To diagnose bacterial keratitis, your ophthalmologist will discuss your symptoms with you. They may gently scrape the eye to take a small sample and test it for infection.

    Bacterial keratitis is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops. Drops are usually put in frequently. Treatment may also involve steroid drops. You may need to return to your ophthalmologist several times.

    If you and your ophthalmologist find and treat bacterial keratitis early, you may preserve your vision. In severe cases decreased vision or blindness may be the result. This is also true if the infection affects the center of the cornea. Sometimes a cornea transplant is needed to restore vision.