Purpose: To correlate the clinical presentation and treatment outcome of Nocardia keratitis with the time to diagnosis, different species and with the drug sensitivity pattern.
Method: Patients with Nocardia corneal ulcers were studied at a tertiary eye care center. Speciation of Nocardia isolates was done by sequencing the 16s rRNA gene. Clinical response to treatment was assessed by chart review.
Results: Twenty one (65.3%) patients presented within 15 days of the onset of symptoms with typical clinical features of Nocardia keratitis, ie, a ring-like distribution of superficial infiltrates in a wreath pattern. Eight patients (25%) who presented after 15 days and within 30 days had an ulcer resembling fungal keratitis. N. Cyriacigeorgica (n = 11; 34.37%), N. asteroides (n = 9; 28%), N. farcinica (n = 7; 22%,) and N. Otitidiscaviarum (n = 5; 16%). All the species had 100% sensitivity to amikacin, sulphamethoxazole, imipenem and co-trimoxazole. Time to diagnosis of the infection was significantly associated with the different types of clinical presentation; those presenting early having the typical clinical picture (P = 0.004). Patients (73%) presenting within 15 days showed a highest recovery rate. (P = 0.045). The recovery time of the patients when compared with species showed those who were infected with N. cyriageorgica had a healing time of less than 15 days. Clinically, healing was faster when treated with 2% amikacin. Visual outcome improved in fourteen patients (44%) and sixteen (50%) patients remained the same (P = 0.0001).
Conclusion: Characteristic clinical picture of Nocardia is dependant on early presentation. It could be mistaken for fungal keratitis. Microbiological confirmation is important. Drug of choice for Nocardia keratitis is amikacin.