Eye infections can be caused due to several microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, amoeba and fungi. Fungal eye infections are very rare, but they can be serious, where the infections can potentially lead to permanent vision issues, including blindness. Inflammation or infection of the cornea, (dome-shaped front layer of your eye that focuses light on the eyes) is known as keratitis.
Fungal keratitis can occur suddenly from an eye injury or using a contact lens. If left untreated can lead to vision loss and in some cases treatment cannot restore normal eyesight.
Fusarium, Aspergillus or Candida is some fungi that can infect the cornea. Superficial keratitis mainly affects the outer layers of the cornea, this form of keratitis heals without leaving any scar on the cornea. Deep layer keratitis affects deeper layers of the cornea that leaves a scar on the cornea after it heals which may or may not impair vision.
Some of the other types of keratitis include:
Amoebic keratitis caused by an infection with acanthamoeba that usually affects a person’s using contact lens.
Bacterial keratitis is an infection caused due to bacteria.
Herpes keratitis is caused by herpes simplex or herpes zoster viruses.
Photo keratitis is usually caused due to intense UV radiation exposure.
Fusaria is the most common fungi found in the soil, water and plants. Fungal keratitis can occur after an injury to the cornea involving a plant compound. While an individual’s with a low immune response is highly prone to be infected with fungal keratitis if they come in contact with any fungus. There is a high risk of developing fungal keratitis for a person’s using contact lens. Proper use and cleaning of contact lenses can lower the risk.
Symptoms of fungal keratitis may include:
Sudden pain in the eye
Increased light sensitivity
Irritation or itching
Discharge from eye
Who are at risk?
The risk of fungal infections are associated with:
Eye injury, particularly with plant material like thorn or stick
Eye surgery -corneal transplant surgery or cataract surgery)
Chronic eye disease
Wearing contact lenses
Exposure to contaminated medical products that come in contact with the eye
Fungal bloodstream infection (like candidemia)
People with a compromised immune system, diabetics and those who use corticosteroids are at high risk.
To diagnose fungal eye infection the doctor will examine the eye and may collect a small sample of tissue or fluid from the eye and the sample is examined under a microscope or sent for a culture test. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and confocal microscopy are also being done as a faster and more precise form of diagnosis. However, a culture test is the standard diagnostic method for a more accurate diagnosis of fungal infection.
Generally, treatment for fungal eye infection depends on the type of fungus, severity and regions of the eye that is affected. The doctor may prescribe the patients with antifungal eye drops, topical eye drops work well for healing fungal infection affecting the outer layer of the eye caused by fungi such as Aspergillus and Fusarium. Mediations are injected via the vein or directly into the eye or oral pills are prescribed. Patients with severe infections who don’t get better after taking medications may require surgery including corneal transplantation, removal of the vitreous gel from the interior region of the eye or more severe cases removal of an eye.
How To Prevent
People who work on the farm or other plantation should always use protective eyewear to avert an eye injury.
For a person using contact lenses, they should take proper care of their lenses to prevent infection.