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Keratitis vs Uveitis: Clearing the Confusion

Gina Walters


keratitis vs uveitis

Keratitis and Uveitis are common eye conditions often misdiagnosed due to similar symptoms. 

Keratitis is an infection of the cornea, whereas Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea. 

While these conditions have similar inflammatory effects on the eye, they stem from different underlying issues. As a result, the treatment approaches for both conditions are different. 

Understanding the differences between these two eye problems is critical for accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

This article explores “Keratitis vs Uveitis” to help understand how these eye inflammations differ from each other. 

Understanding Uveitis and Keratitis

Keratitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the cornea (or the outer layer of the eye). 

It can occur due to eye infections, injuries, or underlying conditions such as dry eyes or autoimmune diseases. 

Alternatively, Uveitis refers to the inflammation of the uvea, the eye’s middle layer. It comprises the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. 

Based on the affected part of the uvea, Uveitis can be divided into various types, including anterior, intermediate, posterior, and panuveitis. 

Difference between Keratitis and Uveitis

The difference between Keratitis and Uveitis lies in the affected parts of the eye and the underlying causes of the inflammation.  

Keratitis causes the inflammation of the cornea, leading to symptoms like pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and discharge. 

Uveitis can also cause pain, impaired vision, and light sensitivity. However, unlike Keratitis, it affects the uvea

Let us take a closer look at the differences between Keratitis and Uveitis to help identify the conditions better.

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Keratitis vs Uveitis symptoms

redness in IrisSource: Antonio_Gravate
R0edness in eye

Keratitis and Uveitis can have similar symptoms, sometimes leading to misdiagnosis.

The symptoms of Keratitis can vary in severity based on the cause of the condition and extent of inflammation. 

According to Mayo Clinic, these symptoms often include:

  • Eye pain
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A sensation of something stuck in the eye
Do not self-diagnose or use over-the-counter eye drops without professional guidance, as improper treatment may worsen the condition.

Uveitis, which affects the uvea, may have similar symptoms. These symptoms develop suddenly and may vary based on the type and extent of inflammation.

These Uveitis symptoms include:

  • Eye pain
  • Redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Floaters (spots in vision)
  • Reduced visual clarity

While both conditions can cause inflammation in the eye, they have different causes and affect different parts of the eye. 

Causes of Keratitis vs Uveitis

Uveitis and Keratitis may have similar symptoms but differ in cause. 

Keratitis often develops due to infections caused by several pathogens — including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and certain parasites. 

However, it can also occur due to noninfectious causes, such as injuries, contact lens overuse, certain eyelid disorders, and autoimmune disorders. 

Uveitis may stem from infections, such as herpes simplex virus, shingles virus, Lyme disease, syphilis, and parasites such as toxoplasmosis.

However, it is typically caused by autoimmune diseases, eye trauma, and certain cancers. In some cases, Uveitis can be idiopathic (occurring without an identifiable cause).

Recommended read: Wondering why you have Uveitis? Learn about the possible causes — Exploring Uveitis Causes: From Infections to Autoimmune Factors

Use protective eyewear in situations where there’s a risk of eye injury (e.g., during sports, construction work) to prevent Keratitis and Uveitis.

Treating Uveitis vs Keratitis

eye-dropSource: Porntep-Kawjun
Woman using careprost eye drop

Treating Keratitis and Uveitis involves addressing their root causes and managing symptoms.  

Treatment for Keratitis typically involves using eye drops, which may include antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals, depending on the underlying cause.   

For mild cases of the condition, lubricating eye drops can provide relief. However, oral medications or surgery may be necessary in more severe cases.  

Uveitis treatment can vary depending on the specific type and cause. It may include steroid eye drops, oral medications, immunosuppressants, or injections to help reduce inflammation.  

Timely diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial to prevent complications and preserve healthy vision in both conditions. 

Keratitis vs Uveitis: Comparison

Let us compare the key differences between Keratitis and Uveitis in the table below:

Affected part of the eyeCorneaUvea
Symptoms Eye painRednessBlurred visionLight sensitivityDischargeEye painRednessBlurred visionFloatersLight sensitivity
CausesInfections (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic)InjuriesUnderlying health conditionsInfectionsAutoimmune diseasesTraumaIdiopathic
TreatmentAntibiotic/antifungal eye dropsLubricating eye dropsOral medicationsSurgerySteroid eye dropsOral medicationsImmunosuppressantsInjections

The bottom line

Understanding “Keratitis vs Uveitis” is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Keratitis and Uveitis both involve the inflammation of the eye. However, they affect different eye parts and also differ in primary symptoms, causes, and treatments. 

While Keratitis affects the cornea, Uveitis affects the uvea. Both conditions can cause eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. 

However, Keratitis is also associated with discharge, while Uveitis may cause floaters.

Uveitis can be infectious but primarily due to injuries, eye trauma, or health conditions. Keratitis commonly develops from bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infections. 

It is essential to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you experience any of the symptoms above. 

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the ideal treatment for your specific issue. Neglecting or misdiagnosing your symptoms can lead to further complications.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Keratitis or Uveitis lead to vision loss?

Both Keratitis and Uveitis, if left untreated or poorly managed, can lead to vision impairment or loss.

Are there any specific risk factors associated with Keratitis and Uveitis?

Contact lens wear, eye trauma, weakened immune systems, and certain diseases may be risk factors for Keratitis. 
Autoimmune illnesses, infections, a history of eye damage, or underlying health issues such as Arthritis can be risk factors for Uveitis.

Can Keratitis or Uveitis be prevented?

Proper contact lens hygiene, avoiding eye injuries, and managing eye infections can help prevent Keratitis. 
Uveitis can be prevented by managing underlying health issues, protecting the eyes from injuries, and seeking timely treatment for symptoms.

What should I do if I suspect I have symptoms of Keratitis or Uveitis?

If suffering symptoms such as eye pain, redness, changes in vision, or light sensitivity, seek quick evaluation by an eye care expert. 
Early diagnosis and adequate treatment are critical to prevent problems and preserve eye health.

Are there long-term consequences associated with untreated Keratitis or Uveitis?

If left untreated or improperly managed, Keratitis or Uveitis can result in serious complications, including corneal scarring, vision loss, Glaucoma, Cataracts, or permanent damage to the uvea.  
Regular eye exams and following treatment can help avoid future complications.

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