Cornea is the outermost layer of the eye that covers the pupil and the iris. The National Eye Institute states that cornea’s anatomical structure consist of five basic thick layers that provide it with an outstanding protective barrier against dust, injury, bacterial, viral and fungal infection. One of its protective layers, the stoma, produces protein fibers that contribute to cornea maintaining its thickness, elasticity, clarity and transparency. These characteristics combined together, promote cornea’s ability to refract light properly.
In spite of the corneal anatomical structure, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education explains that the cornea is still vulnerable to infections. The most common infection that affects the cornea is keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea that is caused by minor injuries to the cornea and secondly, infection to the cornea caused bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungus present in the cornea. These types of infections find their way through physical breakdown of the corneal epithelium. This occurs as a result of wearing contaminated contact lenses for a long time. In every case, both these reasons can cause harm to the cornea if the problem is not addressed in a timely manner.
Consequently, keratitis presents symptoms that are usually experienced by a person with this type of infection. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, The Eye M.D Association lists the following. The effects of keratitis are red eye, pain in the eye, tearing and or discharge from the eye, pain occurring as a result of irritation to the cornea that makes opening of the eyelid difficult, swelling around the eye, feeling something in the eye, blurry vision and sensitivity to light. When a person comes up with these symptoms, it is important that the person seeks treatment as soon as possible. This should would lead to proper testing and diagnosis so as the person can obtain proper treatment plan. According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, a doctor uses different types of treatment approach to establish proper plan of treatment. A doctor performs visual acuity exam, use of penlight exam and slit lamp exam. These general exams enable the doctor to view the condition of the eye, pupil’s reaction, size and light magnification to detect the extent of cornel inflammation. In addition to these, a sample of tears are collected from the infected cornea is taken to the laboratory for analysis.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research reveals that treatments and drugs administered to a person with keratitis depend on the type of infection. As for a person with noninfectious keratitis, the desired treatment would be a 24 hour eye patch and topical medications. As for infectious keratitis, treatment varies depending on the cause of infection. Antibacterial eye drops and oral antibiotics would be recommended for moderate to severe bacterial keratitis. Additionally, antifungal eye drops for fungal keratitis and viral keratitis would use antiviral eye drops and oral antiviral medications.
Lastly, Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention provides means to effectively prevent the risk of keratitis. First it expresses the observation of hand washing techniques before handling contact lenses. A person wearing contact lenses should avoid contact with water. It also expresses that lenses must be worn and replaced as scheduled by the eye care provider, and more importantly a person should seek regular eye examinations in addition to many others.
And finally, the best way to reduce or prevent the spread of keratitis is to be knowledgeable about its causes, effects and observing the guidelines for infection control.