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Contact Lens Problems: Infection - Topic Overview

Keratitis refers to an inflammation of the cornea camera.gif. 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 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some extended-wear lenses for 30-day use, many eye doctors recommend that people remove them every day.

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.
  • Physiological factors, such as an allergic reaction to deposits on the lenses.

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:

  • Pain and redness in the eye.
  • Tearing and painful sensitivity to light.
  • Discharge.
  • Decreased vision.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 16, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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