Many people don’t think much about what a gift our sense of sight is. You probably don’t put a lot of thought into eye health or eye safety. However, we’re here to tell you that eye health is vitally important. You want to protect your eyes and safeguard your sight by taking care of your eyes to prevent health issues and conditions, like keratitis.
Keratitis is a common eye condition that involves inflammation of the cornea. Keratitis can be both infectious and non-infectious. A fairly minor injury can cause non-infectious keratitis – like wearing your contact lenses for too long or getting a foreign body in your eye. Conversely, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause infectious keratitis.
If you get prompt treatment, moderate cases of keratitis can usually be solved without any loss of vision. However, if you don’t seek attention or you have a severe infection, keratitis can lead to vision loss or permanently-damaged vision.
The symptoms of keratitis are:
- Unusual scleral redness
- Excessive tearing
- Blurred/hazy vision
- Decreased visual acuity
- Discharge (crust around the eyelid and lashes)
- Difficulty opening your eyelid
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Foreign body sensation (eyelash in the eye)
If you have these symptoms, make an appointment to see an eye doctor.
Types of Keratitis
As mentioned, there are two types of keratitis: infectious and non-infectious.
Non-infectious keratitis can be caused by the following:
- Eye injury
- Using extended-wear contact lenses
- Wearing contact lenses too long
- Wearing contacts while swimming
- A weakened immune system
- Exposure to intense sunlight
- A side effect of prescribed medication
- Chronic pathologies such as Diabetes
- Corneal exposure to chemical irritants such as soap, shampoo, hair spray, chlorine, etc
Infectious keratitis can be caused by:
- Bacteria – Bacterial keratitis is usually caused by two types of bacteria, and it occurs more often in people who use contact lenses improperly. It could be bacterial keratitis if you have a red eye and noticeable crusted discharge in one or both eyes.
- Fungi – Fungal keratitis is caused by a few different fungi. This form of keratitis mostly affects people who wear contact lenses. But, you can be exposed to these fungi outside.
- Viruses – Viral keratitis is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus, which develops from conjunctivitis. It might be viral keratitis if you have a pink eye and minor discharge. It’s highly contagious and normally affects both eyes.
- Parasites – An organism called Acanthamoeba lives in infected water and can be picked up by swimming in a lake, walking in a wooded area after rain or rinsing your soft contact lenses with infected tap water.
How to Prevent Keratitis
In a previous article, Eye Health and Makeup Tips, we mentioned that pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and irritants in eye makeup can cause infectious or non-infectious keratitis. In cases of infectious Keratitis, it is crucial to dispose of all eye makeup such as eyeliner, mascara, eye glitter, eye-shadow, etc. Additionally, throw away the infected contact lenses and replace your contact lens case as well as the contact lens solution, including the saline and artificial tears. For prevention purposes, do not share eye makeup.
There are other things you can do to prevent your risk of keratitis, such as washing your hands prior to touching your eyes or handling contact lenses and not sharing makeup.
Care for Your Contact Lenses
If you use contact lenses, follow these tips to prevent keratitis:
- Use daily wear or daily disposable contact lenses
- Take contacts out before going to sleep
- Wash, rinse, and dry hands before handling contact lenses
- Follow your eye doctor’s instructions for contact lens care
- Replace your contact lens case often – once every 3-6 months
- Use only sterile solutions or products made for contact lenses
- Do not use saline solution as a replacement for disinfectant solution
- Use recommended lens care products made for the type of contact lenses you wear
- Replace your traditional or disposable contact lenses as recommended
- Throw away used or expired contact lens disinfectant solution according to expiry date
- Don’t wear your contact lenses when swimming
Prevent Viral/Bacterial Keratitis
You can’t prevent all forms of viral/bacterial keratitis, but you can limit viral/bacterial keratitis outbreaks by following these steps:
- Whenever possible, avoid contact with an individual with a viral/bacterial eye infection
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Always touch your eyes or contact lenses, after washing your hands thoroughly – especially if you have a cold sore or herpes blister
- Only use unexpired eye drops/solutions that are recommended by your eye care professional or prescribed by your eye doctor
Eye Health at Hakim
Hakim Optical cares about your eye health. Check out our other articles to learn more about other eye diseases and conditions, as well as how to prevent them. If you suspect you have keratitis or another condition, get in touch with your eye care provider right away.
If it’s time to book your eye exam, visit your local Hakim Optical today.