Each year, Americans make nearly a million doctor visits for eye infections, resulting in $175 million in direct health care costs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated in the first study of its kind.
Keratitis, an infection of the cornea, causes pain and inflammation and can lead to blindness in severe cases. Keratitis occurs when germs invade the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. If a healthcare provider fails to properly evaluate the presentation the results can be devastating to the patient. The infection is most likely to occur when there is injury to the eye. This can be caused by trauma or from contact lenses that are worn too long or are not cared for correctly.
The Center for Disease Control analyzed a national databases of outpatient care centers and emergency rooms to develop the first national estimates of how much keratitis occurs in the United States. The CDC experts found that Americans made an estimated 930,000 visits to doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics and 58,000 emergency room visits annually due to eye infections. The report was published in the November 13, 2014 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
When patients seek care quickly, most complications of keratitis can be easily treated by an eye doctor but failure to properly diagnosis and treat the condition can cause permanent injury. More serious infections can cause pain and lead to vision loss, depending on what germs caused the infection and how long the patient suffers from the problem before receiving appropriate medical attention.
The symptoms of keratitis usually include pain, tearing, redness, and blurring of vision. The pain may be mild to severe, depending on the cause and extent of the inflammation. Sensitivity to light may also be present. To the observer, the eye may appear red and watery; and if the cornea has extensive keratitis, the normally clear cornea may look gray or have white to gray areas.
The diagnosis of keratitis is made by obtaining a complete history and a physical examination of the eye. The history should consist of questions documenting a past medical and ocular history and the symptoms specific to the current visit. The eye examination should consist of checking the patient’s vision. Using a device called a slit lamp will allow a careful inspection of the cornea. A slit lamp provides magnification and illumination of the cornea in detail.
If an infection is suspected, a culture may be taken from the surface of the eye for specific identification of the bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite causing the keratitis.
If you believe you or a loved one has been hurt because of medical negligence, seek legal counsel. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer and/or a medical malpractice attorney. Please feel free to give me a call if you live in California and believe you may have a claim. You may contact me Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. Our website address is .