What is Keratoconjunctivitis?

Keratoconjunctivitis (KC) is an inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye, which causes pain, redness, discharge, and vision impairment. It is caused by viruses and bacteria, usually adenoviruses or herpes simplex virus. KC is often known as pink eye, but some types of viral keratoconjunctivitis can also be known as epidemic keratoconjunctivitis.

KC can have a significant effect on the vision and general health of the affected eye, and in severe cases, the affected eye may need to be treated with antibiotics or other medications. KC is especially common in children, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms and to take steps to prevent it.

Symptoms of Keratoconjunctivitis

The most common symptoms of KC are:

  • Itching or burning in the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Tearing or increased eye discharge
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurriness or cloudiness of vision

Causes of Keratoconjunctivitis

KC is usually caused by a virus or bacteria, and some of the most common causes are:

  • Adenoviruses, which can cause epidemic keratoconjunctivitis
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus

KC can also be caused by environmental factors such as chemicals, irritants, and allergens, which can irritate the cornea and conjunctiva and cause inflammation.

Treatment of Keratoconjunctivitis

Treatment for KC depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, the virus or bacteria may resolve on its own and the symptoms may resolve in a few days with no medical treatment. In other cases, antibiotics may be needed to treat a bacterial infection, or antiviral medications may be needed to treat a virus.

If the cause of KC is an environmental factor, it is important to address the underlying cause. For example, if the KC is caused by an irritant or allergen, it is important to identify and avoid the irritant or allergen. In cases where KC is caused by a chemical, it is important to wear protective eyewear when working with chemical solutions.

Prevention of Keratoconjunctivitis

The best way to prevent KC is to practice good eye hygiene. It is important to avoid touching or rubbing the eyes, and it is important to wash hands frequently to minimize the risk of spreading bacteria or viruses. In addition, it is important to be aware of common causes of KC, such as allergens, irritants, and chemicals, and to try to limit exposure to these triggers when possible.

In cases where there is a risk of KC due to a virus, such as adenovirus, it is important to take extra precautions, such as avoiding contact with other people who may be infected. It is also important to practice good hygiene and to avoid sharing towels, pillows, and other items that may be contaminated.