A corneal infection can arise from various situations. They can occur following damage to the cornea if a foreign object has touched the eye, this could be from accidentally poking your eye with something or getting grit or even an eyelash in the eye. Corneal infections can also start from contact lens wear if the contact lens has bacteria on it, this could be from touching your lenses with dirty hands, this bacterium then gets transferred to the cornea.
All types of corneal infections can be painful and cause inflammation, and can cause keratitis. Keratitis is a type of corneal infection that may; lower clarity of vision, cause corneal discharge and can even wear away the cornea if left untreated. Infections of the cornea, whichever type it may be, could also lead to scarring of the cornea. Corneal scarring can lead to severely reduced vision and the only option to help this may be to have a corneal transplant. This would be in severe cases, which is why if you have any signs of a corneal infection or have any concerns after anything entering your eye you should visit an eye doctor as soon as possible, they can advise the best course of action.
Generally, if the corneal infection is deeper then complications and symptoms tend to be more severe. Contact lens wearers are at a higher risk of corneal infections due to the nature of them, so they should take proper precautions to prevent this as much as possible, such as always having clean hands when inserting or removing contact lenses. As mentioned above serious corneal infections can lead to needing a corneal transplant, especially if left untreated. Minor infections are normally treated with antibacterial and/or antibiotic eye drops and usually clear up in a week or so. Moderate to severe infections may need more intensive treatment of antibacterial and/or antibiotic eye drops along with steroid eye drops to decrease the inflammation and it may take a few months to clear up the infection.
Visiting an ophthalmologist if you have any concerns of a corneal infection is always the best thing to do, so you can get the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.
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