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Keratitis vs Conjunctivitis: How are They Different?

Gina Walters


keratitis vs conjunctivitis

To get the right treatment for your eye, it is important to understand the difference between the various eye problems. 

Keratitis and Conjunctivitis are two of the most common eye diseases that are often confused and thought of to be the same. 

In this article, we will take a look at Keratitis vs Conjunctivitis to help you understand the difference between these eye problems better. 

Understanding Keratitis and Conjunctivitis

Keratitis is an eye disease that makes the cornea, the clear front part of your eye, swell up.

Conjunctivitis, also called “Pink Eye“, occurs when the conjunctiva, a thin and clear membrane covering the inside of the eyelids, feels inflamed.

Conjunctivitis is a common eye problem that affects about six million people in the US every year.

Keratitis is also called Corneal Blindness, a major cause of sight loss in the United States.

There are two main types of Keratitis: non-infectious and infectious. Conjunctivitis is also of three types: bacterial, viral, and allergy.

Explore whether there is any possibility of blindness caused by pink eye with our article: Can Pink Eye Cause Blindness? Exploring the Link Between the Two

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Symptoms: Keratitis vs Conjunctivitis

In no way the symptoms of Keratitis and Conjunctivitis are the same. 

People with Keratitis often have pain in the eye, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and the sensation of something being in the eye. 

Conjunctivitis, or “Pink Eye”, on the other hand, causes red eyes and itchy eyes and releases watery discharge from the eyes. 

The cornea is more affected by Keratitis, while the thin membrane that covers the inside of the eyes is affected by Conjunctivitis. 

It is important to differentiate between the symptoms to find the right treatment plan for your eye conditions.

Understand the various differences between pink eye and allergies with our article: Pink Eye vs Allergies: Know the Difference

Regular eye check ups can help a lot in treating both these eye conditions therefore get your eyes checked up regularly to make sure your eyes are healthy.

Cause of Keratitis and Conjunctivitis

dry eyesSource: angeljana
Non-infectious Keratitis can be caused due to dry eyes

Regarding Conjunctivitis, bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus and Streptococcus Pneumoniae are the main cause of bacterial Pink Eye

In the same way, viruses like Coronavirus and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) can cause viral Pink Eye

On the other hand, allergens like dust and pet hair can cause allergic Pink Eye. 

But when it comes to Infectious Keratitis, it is caused by viruses, bacteria from contact lenses, parasites, and fungi

Usually, it happens after the cornea has already been damaged. 

Non-infectious Keratitis can be caused by eye problems like Dry Eyes, wounds after surgery, wearing contact lenses for a long time, and lack of vitamin A.

Want to know more about the various pink eye causes? Read our article: Uncovering Pink Eye Causes: A Comprehensive Guide

Treatment options for Keratitis and Conjunctivitis

Use artificial tears eyedropSource: Denisfilm_From_Getty_Images
Use artificial tears eyedrop

Keratitis treatment depends on the type of Keratitis one has. 

Doctors may prescribe antiviral, antibiotic or antifungal eye drops for mild Infectious Keratitis, depending on the cause. 

Ophthalmologists may prescribe oral medicines for severe Infectious Keratitis.

For moderate Non-infectious Keratitis, doctors may give artificial tears. 

In severe circumstances, patients may be advised to avoid contact lenses and use anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Pink Eye treatment, on the other hand, depends on the cause. Doctors prescribe antibiotic eye drops like Azithromycin for bacterial Pink Eye symptoms

Antiallergic eye drops may treat allergic Pink eyes. Viral Pink Eyes often heal on their own without needing any treatment. 

However, doctors may recommend tear drops for viral Pink Eye as well.

Comparing aspectKeratitisConjunctivitis
DefinitionInflammation of the cornea (outermost eye layer)Inflammation of the conjunctiva (inner eyelid surface)
CausesInfectious (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites) and non-infectious (injuries, underlying medical conditions)Infectious (bacterial and viral), allergic, irritants
SymptomsEye pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, foreign body sensationRedness, itching, watery/mucus discharge, gritty feeling
TypesNon-infectious and Infectious KeratitisBacterial, viral, allergic Conjunctivitis
TreatmentDepends on type; may include eye drops, oral medications, or surgeryDepends on the cause; antibiotic eye drops for bacterial, antiallergic eye drops for allergic, viral often resolves on its own
Understand the various differences between viral and bacterial pink eye with our article: Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Do not take any medicine without consulting a doctor. Your doctor can help you determine the right dosage for your condition and avoid the risk of side effects.


In conclusion, Understanding Keratitis vs Conjunctivitis is important to find the right treatment.

Keratitis affects the eye and makes it painful, sensitive to light, and blurry. 

Whereas Conjunctivitis, also known as “Pink Eye”, causes an inflammation feeling in the thin membrane that lines the eyelid. 

This causes redness, itching, and a release of watery mucus-like fluid. Recognizing these unique symptoms is a key part of making individualized treatment plans. 

For correct and proper treatment, it is important to know the different reasons causing these eye problems, such as bacteria, viruses, allergens, and injuries. 

When deciding the right treatment for Keratitis and Conjunctivitis, it’s important to consult a doctor.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences between Keratitis and Conjunctivitis?

Keratitis hurts and makes it hard to see because it affects the cornea. People with Conjunctivitis, or Pink Eye have swelling, itching, and a watery discharge from their eyes.

How common is Conjunctivitis compared to Keratitis in the United States?

About six million people get Conjunctivitis every year. Keratitis, on the other hand, is less common but is a major cause of blindness in the US.

What are the typical symptoms of Keratitis and Conjunctivitis?

Keratitis causes pain, sensitivity to light, and a feeling like something is in the eye. When you have Conjunctivitis, your eyes will be red, itch, and leak watery fluid.

What causes Keratitis and Conjunctivitis, and are there different types of each?

Both contagious and non-infectious things can cause Keratitis. In contrast, Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies.

What are the recommended treatment options for Keratitis vs Conjunctivitis?

Treatment depends on the condition. Keratitis treatments vary by type and may involve ocular drops or oral drugs. Antibiotics cure bacterial Conjunctivitis, whereas viral kinds usually resolve on their own. Get a diagnosis and customized treatment from a doctor.

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