Microbial keratitis in children

Ophthalmology. 1998 Feb;105(2):252-7. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(98)92899-8.


Objective: Microbial keratitis is a major cause of corneal blindness worldwide. This problem is particularly relevant to children, because most of their visual life is ahead of them, and they are uniquely at risk for irreversible ocular deficits, such as those resulting from amblyopia. The objective of this study was to determine the etiologic agents and predisposing factors in childhood infectious keratitis and to examine the outcome of treatment in terms of structure and visual acuity.

Design: The study design was a retrospective cases series.

Participants: The authors studied 113 eyes in 107 children 16 years of age and younger who were treated for (nonviral) microbial keratitis at the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, during the 4.5-year period between February 1, 1991, and June 30, 1995.

Intervention: The patients who met the following criteria were included in the study: (1) corneal stromal infiltrate was present on slit-lamp examination; and (2) a corneal scraping was taken at the time of examination for suspected microbial keratitis.

Main outcome measures: Etiologic micro-organisms, predisposing factors, treatment method, structural treatment outcome, and visual acuity treatment outcome of the infectious keratitis episode were measured.

Results: The principal predisposing factors identified in this study were trauma (21.2%), ocular disease (17.7%), systemic disease (15.9%), and prior penetrating keratoplasty in the same eye (8.8%). Vitamin A deficiency was an important factor within the category of severe systemic disease, and contact lens wear was not involved in any of the cases. A total of 85 organisms were isolated in cultures of corneal scrapings from 64 (56.6%) of the 113 cases. Staphylococcus species (43.7%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (18.8%), and fungi (17.2%) were the most common isolates. Eighteen eyes (15.9%) required surgery, and 28 (36.4%) of the 77 patients on whom visual acuity was assessed at last follow-up achieved an unaided visual acuity of 20/60 or better at last follow-up.

Conclusion: This work represents the largest recent study on childhood (nonviral) microbial keratitis, its management, and treatment outcomes. In this study, amblyopia is highlighted as a potentially significant sequela of childhood microbial keratitis. Identification of the appropriate predisposing factors, etiologic microbial organisms, and treatment outcome from this study may aid in early recognition and treatment of microbial keratitis in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cornea / microbiology
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / physiopathology
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Keratitis / microbiology*
  • Keratitis / physiopathology
  • Keratitis / therapy
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents