Shifting trends in bacterial keratitis in Toronto: an 11-year review

Ophthalmology. 2012 Sep;119(9):1785-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.03.031. Epub 2012 May 23.


Objective: To review the distribution, current trends, and resistance patterns of bacterial keratitis isolates in Toronto over the last 11 years.

Design: Retrospective, observational, case series.

Participants: Microbiology records of suspected bacterial keratitis cases that underwent a diagnostic corneal scraping and cultures from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2010, were reviewed.

Methods: Culture results and antibiotic sensitivity profiles were reviewed and analyzed.

Main outcome measures: Distribution of the main isolated pathogens as well as in vitro laboratory minimum inhibitory concentration testing results to identify resistance patterns.

Results: A total of 1701 consecutive corneal scrapings were taken during the 11 years of the study. A pathogen was recovered in 977 samples (57.4%), with bacterial keratitis accounting for 897 of the positive cultures (91.8%). The total number of Gram-positive and Gram-negative isolates was 684 and 213, respectively. We identified a decreasing trend in Gram-positive isolates (P = 0.016). The most common isolate overall was coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS) and the most common Gram-negative bacteria isolated was Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was present in 1.3% of the S aureus isolates, whereas methicillin-resistant CNS (MRCNS) was present in 43.1% of the CNS isolates. There was a trend toward increasing laboratory resistance to methicillin from 28% during the first 4 years of the study to 38.8% for the last 3 years (P = 0.133). When analyzing the sensitivities of MRSA and MRCNS isolates to other antibiotics, there was resistance to cefazolin and sensitivity to vancomycin in all isolates, whereas resistance to other antibiotics was variable.

Conclusions: There was a significant decrease in the percentage of Gram-positive microorganisms over time. The sensitivity of Gram-negative isolates to tested antimicrobials was >97% response for all the reported antibiotics; this was not the case for Gram-positive isolates, in which resistance to the antibiotics was more common. Methicillin-resistant organisms accounted for 29.1% of all Gram-positive cultures in our series, suggesting that the empiric use of vancomycin in the setting of severe suspected bacterial keratitis may be justified.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cornea / microbiology
  • Corneal Ulcer / epidemiology
  • Corneal Ulcer / microbiology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents