Keratitis, also known as inflammation of the cornea, may be acute or chronic, superficial or deep. Superficial keratitis is fairly common and may develop at any age. The prognosis is good with treatment. Untreated, recurrent keratitis may lead to blindness.
Keratitis may result from exposure (as in Bell’s palsy where the eyelids don’t close), wearing contact lenses for prolonged periods (overnight), or corneal trauma. It may also result from infection by herpes simplex virus, type 1 (known as dendritic keratitis because of a characteristic branched lesion of the cornea resembling the veins of a leaf). Less commonly, it stems from bacterial or fungal infection; rarely, from congenital syphilis.