Also known as: corneal inflammation

At The London Clinic we offer advanced diagnosis and treatment for keratitis. Book an appointment at our private Eye Centre and start your treatment journey today.

What is keratitis?

Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea of the eye which is the transparent dome at the front of the eye. 

Keratitis can develop as a result of infection or injury, or there may be no cause (non-infectious keratitis).

With early treatment keratitis is normally curable, but if left untreated it can lead to ulceration of the cornea, scarring and in some cases, vision loss.

What causes keratitis?

You may develop keratitis if you damage the outer layer of your cornea (epithelium), eyelid or tear duct.  

Injuries from scratches or foreign objects in the eye can damage the cornea making it more vulnerable to infection and keratitis. 

Your can damage your cornea by:

  • Wearing contact lenses for long periods
  • Exposing your eyes to ultraviolet light
  • Using corticosteroid eye drops
  • Swimming in water contaminated with pathogens

Once the eye is vulnerable, infection can occur more easily from bacteria and viruses.

Bacteria that can cause keratitis include: 

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Streptococcus species
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Enterobacteriaceae species
  • Staphylococcus species
  • Treponema pallidum


Interstitial keratitis can develop in the middle layer of the cornea (stoma) due to an infection from:

  • Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis
  • Acanthamoeba parasite

Viruses that can cause keratitis include:

  • Herpes simplex virus, the virus responsible for cold sores, can lie dormant in the eye and become active from time to time
  • Herpes zoster virus, the virus responsible for chickenpox and shingles. Keratitis can occur as a complication of shingles

Certain fungi and parasites can also cause keratitis which is more common in tropical climates and can be very serious and difficult to treat. The fungi that cause fungal keratitis include:

  • Aspergillus species
  • Fusarium species

Contact lens wearers are at a slightly higher risk of keratitis as their eyes can be more easily infected by bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Swimming in contaminated water while wearing contact lenses can make your eyes more vulnerable to parasitic infection such as acanthamoeba, a common single-celled organism that lives in water, air, soil and sewage. 


What are the symptoms of keratitis?

Early symptoms of keratitis include: 

  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Painful eyes
  • Sensation of something being in your eye
  • Itchiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Red eyes

What underlying conditions can make you more susceptible to keratitis?

There are several underlying factors that can make you more prone to keratitis including:

  • Dry eye syndrome (tears keep the eye clean)
  • Untreated eye rosacea 
  • An underlying health problem (not eye related)
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Allergies
  • Reduced immunity because of disease or poor nutrition
  • Infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites

How is keratitis diagnosed?

At The London Clinic Eye Centre we have an experienced team including specialists and nurses who will provide an eye exam and laboratory analysis to diagnose any infection.

How is keratitis treated at The London Clinic? 

One of our specialist consultants will treat you at our Eye Centre near Harley Street. 

Depending on what’s causing the keratitis we will offer you:

  • Antibiotic eye drops
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Antifungal eye drops
  • Antifungal medication
  • Antiviral eye drops
  • Antiviral medication

In a very small number of cases a cornea transplant may be necessary. 

Any surgery will take place in our private theatre near Harley Street.



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