Clinicomicrobiological review of Nocardia keratitis

Cornea. 1998 Jan;17(1):17-22. doi: 10.1097/00003226-199801000-00003.


Purpose: To present the clinical profile, laboratory results, and outcome of treatment in 16 patients with Nocardia keratitis.

Methods: A retrospective review of 16 culture-proven cases of Nocardia keratitis was done. Clinical and microbiologic data were analyzed.

Results: Nocardia constituted 1.7% of laboratory-confirmed bacterial keratitis and was seen predominantly in male subjects (13 of 16) with a mean age of 39.1 years. Although the predisposing factor was unknown in the majority, a definite history of trauma was present in four (25%) cases. Patchy stromal infiltrates were seen in 12 patients. Wreath pattern of infiltrates (six of 16) and hypopyon (nine of 16) were notable features. Nocardia was detectable in corneal scrapings of 10 patients with Gram stain and all patients with 1% acid-fast preparation (six of six). Nocardia asteroides was the causative agent in all except one (N. caviae). All isolates were sensitive to gentamicin; however, topical 30% sulfacetamide was the preferred drug for treatment. Favorable outcome (healed scar) was achieved in 11.

Conclusion: Although Nocardia keratitis is a rare condition, a high index of clinical suspicion should be kept in agricultural workers or in patients with trauma who have patchy stromal infiltrates. Sulfonamides are the initial drug of choice, and gentamicin could be an effective alternative. If recognized early, Nocardia keratitis responds to medical treatment with good visual recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / microbiology*
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Corneal Ulcer / diagnosis
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Corneal Ulcer / microbiology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nocardia Infections / diagnosis
  • Nocardia Infections / drug therapy
  • Nocardia Infections / etiology*
  • Nocardia asteroides / drug effects
  • Nocardia asteroides / growth & development
  • Nocardia asteroides / isolation & purification*
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sulfacetamide / administration & dosage
  • Sulfacetamide / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Sulfacetamide