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Keratitis Causes: Discovering What Leads to Corneal Inflammation

Gina Walters


keratitis causes

Keratitis is a painful inflammatory disorder that affects the cornea of your eye. 

The cornea is the clear layer covering the pupil and the iris of the eye.

Keratitis can lead to blurred vision and makes your eyes sensitive to light.

It can be brought on by an infection or injury.

Symptoms of Keratitis develop quickly and may lead to vision loss if left unaddressed.

Read further to discover the Keratitis causes and ways to prevent the condition.

Keratitis Causes

Keratitis can be infectious or non-infectious, depending upon the cause.

Infectious Keratitis occurs due to infections brought on by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. 

On the other hand, any injury to the cornea and other factors can lead to noninfectious Keratitis.

Causes of infectious Keratitis

Infectious Keratitis frequently develops after corneal injury. 

Following this, bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses penetrate the wounded eye, leading to a corneal infection.

Bacterial Keratitis: It is the most common type of Keratitis.

Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are the two most common species of bacteria that cause Bacterial Keratitis.

Most often, it occurs due to improper and prolonged use of contact lenses. 

If you don’t clean and preserve your contact lenses properly, bacteria may grow on them, leading to an infection. 

Contaminated contact lens solution or eye drops might also lead to Bacterial Keratitis.

Contact lens wearers are more likely to get Keratitis than people who do not wear contact lenses.

Fungal Keratitis: Fungi like Aspergillus, Candida, or Fusarium can lead to Fungal Keratitis. 

Although uncommon, Fungal Keratitis most commonly affects contact lens wearers, just like Bacterial Keratitis. 

However, coming in contact with a plant having fungal invasion may also be the cause of the infection. 

Also, inappropriate usage of steroid eye drops or contact lenses may potentially lead to Fungal Keratitis.

Keratitis develops quickly and often leads to vision loss if left untreated. Read our article: Keratitis Symptoms: Understanding the Signs of Corneal Inflammation to learn more about symptoms of Keratitis.

Parasitic Keratitis: Parasitic Keratitis, most commonly known as Acanthamoeba Keratitis, is caused by microscopic, single-celled organisms, Acanthamoeba. 

They are the most prevalent amoeba in freshwater environments and soil. 

The parasite can be acquired by swimming in a lake, wandering in a forest, or getting contaminated water on your contact lenses.

In the US, around 85% of cases of  Acanthamoeba infection occur in people who wear contact lenses.

Viral Keratitis: It is caused by herpes simplex virus, chicken pox virus, or the common cold.

The condition usually progresses from Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye to Keratitis.

You can transfer a cold sore caused by the herpes simplex virus by touching your sore and then your eye. 

The virus that causes cold sores has been found to cause several Keratitis infections. 

Stress, a weakened immune system, or exposure to sunlight all contribute to recurring infections.

Causes of Noninfectious Keratitis

Contact lensSource: Getty_images
Woman using Contact lens

Noninfectious Keratitis resulting in swelling and pain can occur due to illnesses, traumas, or surgeries that damage the eye. 

This kind of corneal inflammation can result from the following conditions:

  • Dry eyes
  • Prolonged contact lens usage
  • Eye injuries like scratches, scrapes, or punctures
  • Scars left after previous eye surgery
  • Wearing contacts while swimming
  • Allergies to cosmetics, pollutants, or pollen
  • Exposure to strong sunlight
  • Weak immune system
  • A diet deficient in Vitamin A
  • Chemical irritants
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Preventing Keratitis

avoid rubbing eyesSource: Asia_Images_Group
Avoid touching your eyes

While anyone encounters Keratitis, there are things you can do to avoid it. 

  • Take off the contact lenses before swimming, showering, or sleeping
  • If you are unwell, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes
  • When going out in the sun, wear appropriate eye-protective gear
  • Follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for contact lens care and usage
  • Make sure your hands are completely dry before handling your contact lenses
  • While cleaning and storing your contact lenses, always use a fresh solution
  • Keep the area where you store your contact lenses and contact lens case clean and germ-free
  • Avoid storing or washing your contact lenses with tap water

Keratitis caused by bacterial infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Read our article: Understanding Antibiotics for Eye Infections to know more.

If Keratitis is not treated promptly, infections could pass through the cornea and spread to other parts of the eye, leading to blindness.


Keratitis is a common eye condition that affects the cornea and may lead to blindness if not addressed on time.

Keratitis can be categorized as infectious or noninfectious based on the cause.

Infectious Keratitis can result from bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections.

Noninfectious Keratitis can occur due to eye injury, prolonged use of contact lenses, and other factors.

Preventing the condition from getting worse is necessary as it may affect your vision.

Follow your doctor’s advice and take necessary precautionary measures for proper management of Keratitis.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Keratitis in the eye?

Infectious Keratitis can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. 
Noninfectious Keratitis can occur due to an eye injury or prolonged and improper use of contact lenses.

What causes Neurotrophic Keratitis?

Neurotrophic Keratitis occurs when the nerves that nourish the cornea malfunction.

What causes Interstitial Keratitis?

Herpes Simplex Virus and Syphilis are the two most common causes of Interstitial Keratitis.

What causes Ulcerative Keratitis?

Ulcerative Keratitis could be the result of autoimmune disorders, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Relapsing Polychondritis.

Is Keratitis of the eye contagious?

Yes, Keratitis is highly contagious and can be transmitted if you touch your eyes after coming into contact with an infected material.

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