Review of epidemiological features, microbiological diagnosis and treatment outcome of microbial keratitis: experience of over a decade

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2009 Jul-Aug;57(4):273-9. doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.53051.


Purpose: To review the epidemiological characteristics, microbiological profile, and treatment outcome of patients with suspected microbial keratitis.

Materials and methods: Retrospective analysis of a non-comparative series from the database was done. All the patients presenting with corneal stromal infiltrate underwent standard microbiologic evaluation of their corneal scrapings, and smear and culture-guided antimicrobial therapy.

Results: Out of 5897 suspected cases of microbial keratitis 3563 (60.4%) were culture-proven (bacterial--1849, 51.9%; fungal--1360, 38.2%; Acanthamoeba--86, 2.4%; mixed--268, 7.5%). Patients with agriculture-based activities were at 1.33 times (CI 1.16-1.51) greater risk of developing microbial keratitis and patients with ocular trauma were 5.33 times (CI 6.41-6.44) more likely to develop microbial keratitis. Potassium hydroxide with calcofluor white was most sensitive for detecting fungi (90.6%) and Acanthamoeba (84.0%) in corneal scrapings, however, Gram stain had a low sensitivity of 56.6% in detection of bacteria. Majority of the bacterial infections were caused by Staphylococcus epidermidis (42.3%) and Fusarium species (36.6%) was the leading cause of fungal infections. A significantly larger number of patients (691/1360, 50.8%) with fungal keratitis required surgical intervention compared to bacterial (799/1849, 43.2%) and Acanthamoeba (15/86, 17.4%) keratitis. Corneal healed scar was achieved in 75.5%, 64.8%, and 90.0% of patients with bacterial, fungal, and Acanthamoeba keratitis respectively.

Conclusions: While diagnostic and treatment modalities are well in place the final outcome is suboptimal in fungal keratitis. With more effective treatment available for bacterial and Acanthamoeba keratitis, the treatment of fungal keratitis is truly a challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba*
  • Adult
  • Amebiasis / diagnosis*
  • Amebiasis / drug therapy
  • Amebicides / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • India / epidemiology
  • Keratitis / epidemiology*
  • Keratitis / microbiology*
  • Keratitis / parasitology
  • Keratitis / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycoses / diagnosis*
  • Mycoses / therapy
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Amebicides
  • Anti-Infective Agents