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From Causes to Treatment Options: What is Stromal Keratitis?

Gina Walters


stromal keratitis

Stromal Keratitis is a serious eye disease that affects the corneal stroma. 

The corneal stroma is the thick middle layer of our cornea and is irresponsible for keeping it stable. 

If Stromal Keratitis is not treated properly, it can cause inflammation in your eye, and, in rare cases, you might lose your sight permanently. 

This article will discuss the causes of stromal Keratitis, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

Define: Stromal Keratitis

Inflammation of the corneal stroma is called Stromal Keratitis. Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections are usually the main cause of Stromal Keratitis. 

Cornea, the clear front part of the eye, is very important for directing light to the retina. 

You can notice several symptoms and health complications when the stroma becomes inflamed.

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Causes of Stromal Keratitis

Viruses like Herpes Simplex Virus are usually the most common cause of Stromal Keratitis. 

Bacterial and fungal infections, autoimmune diseases, and eye damage are other factors that can cause Stromal Keratitis.

Let us take a closer look at the various causes of Stromal Keratitis.

Viral infections: Viruses, especially the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), are one of the common causes of Herpes Stromal Keratitis. HSV Stromal Keratitis can cause eye inflammation repeatedly, which can scar the cornea and make it hard to see.

Bacterial infections: If you don’t treat bacterial Keratitis immediately, it can spread to the stroma. Bacterial Keratitis can occur if you wear contact lenses or get a corneal infection. Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are two known bacteria linked to Stromal Keratitis.

Fungal infections: The corneal tissue can also be affected by fungal infection, which is rare. Fungal Keratitis is more common in tropical climates and can occur due to trauma or contaminated contact lenses.

Non-infectious causes: Besides infections, Stromal Keratitis can also be caused by factors that aren’t illnesses, like autoimmune diseases. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause inflammation in the eye stroma.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This autoimmune condition involves the immune system targeting its own tissues, leading to extensive inflammation and damage in the affected organs.

Stromal Keratitis symptoms

Blurry visionSource: zoranm_from_Getty_Images
Blurry vision

Symptoms of Keratitis include serious eye pain, redness, blurred vision, tears, and opaqueness of the cornea. 

Recognizing these symptoms is important for taking action quickly and seeing a doctor immediately to avoid losing sight.

Eye pain: Often, patients experience severe eye pain and discomfort, especially when it’s bright outside.

Redness: The eye that is affected may look red and swollen and is always itchy.

Blurred vision: As the redness worsens, you may have trouble seeing and become more sensitive to light.

Tearing and discharge: Excessive tearing and discharge from the affected eye are common symptoms.

The opaqueness of the cornea: In rare cases, corneal scarring can happen, making the eye cloudy and making it harder to see.

Treatment Options for Stromal Keratitis

Glaucoma patient using eyedropSource: RealPeopleGroup_from_Getty_Images
Old man using eyedrop

Antiviral, antibiotic, fungal medicines, corticosteroid eye drops to reduce swelling, and painkillers to ease the pain.

In rare cases, a corneal transplant to recover vision is a way to treat Stromal Keratitis. 

Let us take a closer look at each of these treatment options.

Antiviral, antibiotic, or antifungal medication: The choice of medication depends on the underlying cause. Antiviral medicines like Acyclovir work for viral infections, but medicines like Ciprofloxacin help in cases of bacterial Keratitis. Antifungal medicines like Fluconazole are often needed to treat fungal Keratitis.

Corticosteroid eye drops: Corticosteroid eye drops can help ease Keratitis symptoms and lessen swelling. However, people who use these eye drops should be very careful because long-term use might lead to corneal thinning.

Pain relievers: People with Stromal Keratitis might be given over-the-counter or prescription painkillers to help them deal with the severe eye pain that comes with it.

Corneal transplant: A corneal transplant may be an option to restore eyesight in severe cases where corneal scarring has led to blindness. This is done by putting a healthy donated cornea over the damaged cornea.

Want to know more about the various treatment options for Keratitis? Read our article: Exploring Keratitis Treatment Options

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.


Stromal Keratitis is a serious eye disease that affects the corneal stroma.

Early detection of symptoms like eye pain, redness, and blurred vision can help find the right treatment and avoid possible vision loss. 

Antiviral, antibiotic, or antifungal medications, corticosteroid eye drops, and pain relievers help treat stromal Keratitis. 

Having proper knowledge about stromal Keratitis helps improve eye health.

Seeking timely treatment can avoid the risk of long-term side effects.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Stromal Keratitis?

Stromal Keratitis is usually caused by viruses, with the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) being the most common. Other factors that can cause Stromal Keratitis are bacterial and fungal infections, autoimmune diseases, or injury to the eye.

Can Stromal Keratitis be cured?

Yes, Stromal Keratitis can be cured. Antiviral, antibiotic, fungal medicines, corticosteroid eye drops to reduce swelling, and painkillers can help treat the condition. In rare cases, a corneal transplant to recover vision is used to treat the condition.

How long does it take for corneal stroma to heal?

Suppose the cornea is uninjured and doesn’t experience haze. In that case, your Stromal Keratitis might heal within 1–2 weeks, on one condition that the epithelium is restored.

How is Stromal Keratitis diagnosed?

A full eye exam is necessary for the diagnosis. This includes a slit lamp exam, corneal cultures to find the cause, and visual acuity tests to see how bad the vision loss is.

Can Stromal Keratitis lead to permanent sight loss?

Yes, if left untreated, Stromal Keratitis can lead to permanent vision loss. Early detection of the symptoms and appropriate medical treatment are essential to avoid any risk.

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