Keratitis refers to an inflammation of the cornea. Infection of the cornea is called infectious keratitis. It is the most serious complication of contact lens wear and can cause blindness.
Bacterial keratitis is the most common type of infectious keratitis. Overall, bacterial keratitis is among the least frequent complications of wearing contacts. But it is much more common in people who wear the lenses overnight.
Even though some of these lenses are approved for 30-day use, many eye doctors recommend that people wear them for a week at most.
In rare cases, viruses and fungi may cause keratitis. A germ that is often present in tap water causes a form of keratitis that is increasingly seen in contact lens wearers, especially those with soft lenses.
Noninfectious causes of keratitis in contact lens wearers include:
Injury (from a blow, scratch, or foreign object).
Chemicals, including those in contact lens solutions.
If you wear contact lenses and you have a painful, red eye, you may have infectious keratitis. Remove your lenses, and call your doctor immediately. You'll need antibiotic eyedrops to help treat the infection. Symptoms of bacterial keratitis may include:
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher Joseph Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology