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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2013 Mar;19(3):210-20. doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12126. Epub 2013 Feb 9.

Mycotic keratitis: epidemiology, diagnosis and management.

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Department of Ocular Microbiology, Institute of Ophthalmology, Joseph Eye Hospital, Tiruchirapalli, India.


Mycotic keratitis (an infection of the cornea) is an important ocular infection, especially in young male outdoor workers. There are two frequent presentations: keratitis due to filamentous fungi (Fusarium, Aspergillus, phaeohyphomycetes and Scedosporium apiospermum are frequent causes) and keratitis due to yeast-like fungi (Candida albicans and other Candida species). In the former, trauma is usually the sole predisposing factor, although previous use of corticosteroids and contact lens wear are gaining importance as risk factors; in the latter, there is usually some systemic or local (ocular) defect. The clinical presentation and clinical features may suggest a diagnosis of mycotic keratitis; increasingly, in vivo (non-invasive) imaging techniques (confocal microscopy and anterior segment optical coherence tomography) are also being used for diagnosis. However, microbiological investigations, particularly direct microscopic examination and culture of corneal scrape or biopsy material, still form the cornerstone of diagnosis. In recent years, the PCR has gained prominence as a diagnostic aid for mycotic keratitis, being used to complement microbiological methods; more importantly, this molecular method permits rapid specific identification of the aetiological agent. Although various antifungal compounds have been used for therapy, management of this condition (particularly if deep lesions occur) continues to be problematic; topical natamycin and, increasingly, voriconazole (given by various routes) are key therapeutic agents. Therapeutic surgery, such as therapeutic penetrating keratoplasty, is needed when medical therapy fails. Increased awareness of the importance of this condition is likely to spur future research initiatives.

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