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Fungal Keratitis: What You Need to Know

Gina Walters
Published

LAST UPDATED:

fungal keratitis

Fungal Keratitis is a severe fungal infection affecting the cornea.

It is caused by fungi, such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, or Candida, and  generally manifests as red and painful eyes.

In most cases, prolonged contact lens use, corticosteroid use, and ocular damage are the risk factors leading to the condition. 

Fungal Keratitis is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can destroy the cornea and cause a significant loss of eyesight. 

Therefore, early identification and treatment are essential for avoiding long-term consequences, such as blindness.

This article will focus on the causes and treatment of Fungal Keratitis.

Fungal Keratitis and its symptoms

Blurry visionSource: zoranm_from_Getty_Images
Blurry vision

Fungal Keratitis is a form of Keratitis that can develop quickly and lead to blindness if not treated on time.

Fungal Keratitis is found worldwide but is more frequent in tropical regions.

Every year, around 1 million individuals encounter Fungal Keratitis.

The common symptoms of Fungal Keratitis include:

  • Pain and redness in the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Excessive watery discharge from the eyes

Keratitis can manifest in several ways. Read our article: Keratitis Symptoms: Understanding the Signs of Corneal Inflammation to learn more about the symptoms of Keratitis.

Suggestion:
If you think you have an eye infection, you must get medical attention immediately to avoid complications and protect your eyesight.

Causes of Fungal Keratitis

Fungal Keratitis is often caused by fungal entry into the corneal stroma through damage in the corneal epithelium.

Fungi can enter the eye through cuts, scratches, or other injuries from plant material or infected items, leading to fungal Keratitis.

In addition, extended usage, inappropriate care, or improper handling of contact lenses might foster the growth of fungi on the lenses or in the eyes.

This, in turn, can cause fungal infections like Fungal Keratitis.

Also, fungi can enter the eye through contaminated eye drops, solutions, or medications.

Apart from this, Fungal Keratitis can result from environmental exposure to fungal spores.

This is most common in rural or agricultural regions.

Fungal Keratitis may be more common in those with chronic eye disorders, corneal injury, or pre-existing eye problems.

However, people who use immunosuppressive medications can also get Fungal Keratitis.

Also, people with weakened immune systems due to disorders like HIV/AIDS are more vulnerable to Fungal Keratitis.

Several factors can lead to Keratitis. Read our article: Keratitis Causes: Discovering What Leads to Corneal Inflammation to know more.

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Fungal Keratitis vs Bacterial Keratitis

It might be difficult to distinguish between Bacterial and Fungal Keratitis since their symptoms are frequently identical. 

The course and severity of both disorders may vary.

However, they both may result in redness, discomfort, impaired vision, sensitivity to light, and a sense that something is in the eye. 

Bacterial Keratitis can spread quickly and cause more severe symptoms.

On the other hand, Fungal Keratitis may spread slowly.

Also, Bacterial Keratitis may show clearer symptoms, such as increased discharge or pus.

Alternatively, Fungal Keratitis caused by fungi may seem dry, feathery, or infiltrative in the cornea.

However, these techniques might not always provide a visible difference.

Hence, it might be challenging to distinguish between the two disorders clinically. 

Therefore, a thorough examination by an eye care specialist is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. 

Don’t get confused between Fungal Keratitis and corneal ulcers. Read our article: Keratitis vs Corneal Ulcer: What differentiates the two?, to know the difference between the two.

Treating Fungal Keratitis

Use-eyedropSource: pixelshot
Use eyedrop (follow doctor’s advice)

Your ophthalmologist (eye care specialist) might extract a sample from your eye to be examined for infections. 

This examination will assist in determining if you have Bacterial or Fungal Keratitis.

Antifungal eye drops and oral medications are often used in the treatment of Fungal Keratitis. 

Natamycin ophthalmic suspension is generally recommended for treating filamentous fungal infections (infections caused by filamentous fungi such as Aspergillus fumigatus). 

For corneal Candida infections, Fluconazole ophthalmic solution is recommended. 

Amphotericin B, Voriconazole, Econazole, Itraconazole, and Miconazole are further topical treatments for Fungal Keratitis. 

If these medications don’t work, you might need surgery, which could involve corneal transplantation. 

Warning:
Even corneal surgery may not be able to restore eyesight in certain circumstances. In those cases, blindness or a permanent visual impairment may occur.

You can effectively manage Keratitis symptoms with eye drops. Read our article: Keratitis Eye Drops: An Effective Way to Treat Eye Conditions to explore different eye drops for Keratitis.

Conclusion

Fungal Keratitis is a serious corneal infection brought on by fungi like Fusarium, Aspergillus, or Candida.

It can lead to painful and red eyes caused by contact lens usage, eye injury, or eye surgery.

Fungal Keratitis should be treated immediately as it can lead to vision loss if left managed on time.

Antifungal medications like Natamycin, Fluconazole, and Amphotericin B are usually employed to treat Fungal Keratitis.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Fungal Keratitis take to develop?

Fungal Keratitis usually manifests as redness, impaired vision, and aching eyes over a period of 5 to 10 days.

How long does Fungal Keratitis last?

The symptoms of Fungal Keratitis usually last for around 12-18 weeks.

What is the most common risk factor for Fungal Keratitis?

The most common risk factors for Fungal Keratitis include prolonged use of contact lenses, eye injury, and eye surgery.

What is the best treatment for Fungal Keratitis?

Antifungal medications, such as Natamycin, are the first line of treatment for Fungal Keratitis. This medication is highly effective against Fusarium and Aspergillus fungi.

Is Fungal Keratitis painful?

Yes, Fungal Keratitis can lead to sudden pain, reduced vision, and increased sensitivity towards light.

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