Fungal Keratitis

 

What is fungal keratitis?

Fungal keratitis is a serious and painful corneal disease caused by a fungal organism. 

 

What are the symptoms of fungal keratitis?

With fungal keratitis, you will have a very red and painful eye. This generally does not improve when a contact lens is removed. There can also be an increased sensitivity to light and excessive tearing or discharge. Vision can become blurred or fuzzy suddenly. 

 

What causes fungal keratitis?

Fungus (usually Fusarium, Aspergillus, or Candida) must enter the epithelium (or top layer) of the cornea to start an infection. This is usually done when you have a corneal scratch with plant matter (such as when gardening) or contact lenses that are infected. 

 

Who develops fungal keratitis?

Fungal keratitis typically occurs after trauma associated with plant matter or in immuno-compromised individuals. Until now, fungal keratitis has rarely been reported in the healthy contact lens wearing population. Yet, the incidence of fungal keratitis among normal contact lens wearers is growing. This type of infection is not contagious. 

To prevent fungal keratitis and contact lens wear, be sure to always wash your hands before handling contact lenses, clean the contact lenses regularly, replace your contact lens case every 3 months, use only the contact lens solution recommended by our optometrists, never re-use old solution, never sleep in your contact lenses, and replace your contact lenses as prescribed. 

How is fungal keratitis diagnosed? 

Fungal keratitis presents very similarly to a bacterial conjunctivitis, so it is important that you visit our office to confirm the correct diagnosis. Our optometrist will look at your eyes under special instruments and use special dyes to evaluate the top layer of the cornea. Sometimes a corneal culture or corneal tissue biopsy my be required. 

How is fungal keratitis treated? 

Topical or oral anti-fungal agents may be used to help combat fungal keratitis for many months after the infection. 

What is the prognosis of having fungal keratitis?

If diagnosed soon enough, the prognosis is good. Make sure you follow all of the instructions laid out by the optometrist. If not, loss of vision and surgical intervention may be necessary.