Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery if I Have Ulcers in My Eye?

If you are considering Laser Eye Surgery but have corneal ulcers (keratitis), you may be concerned that you will be unable to go ahead with your treatment. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about corneal ulcers and how they could impact your suitability for Laser Eye Surgery.

What is Keratitis?

Corneal ulcers – also known as ulcerative keratitis or simply keratitis – refers to an inflammation or irritation of the cornea. They manifest as open sores on the cornea (the outermost layer of the eye) and can cause redness. Other symptoms of corneal ulcers may include:

  • Redness in the affected eye;
  • Severe pain and soreness;
  • A gritty feeling in the affected eye;
  • Watering;
  • Pus or other discharge;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Swelling of the eyelids.

Causes of Corneal Keratitis

Keratitis can be caused by a number of things, including eye injury, infections, and severe dry eye. Most cases of keratitis are caused by either a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.

Bacterial infections are a common side effect of wearing contact lenses – particularly extended-wear lenses. Proper handling, storage, and cleaning of your contact lenses can help to reduce your risk of developing an infection and corneal ulcers.

Viral infections including the herpes simplex virus (the virus that causes cold sores) can be associated with recurring keratitis. In such cases, there may be triggers such as stress, exposure to sunlight, or an impaired immune system. The varicella virus (the virus that causes shingles and chicken pox) can also cause corneal ulcers.

Fungal infections can also occur due to improper use of contact lenses. This type of infection can also be caused by steroid eye drops and injury where the eye is exposed to plant material.

Parasitic infections caused by Acanthamoeba, a microscopic amoeba can be severe and result in corneal ulcers, particularly in contact lens wearers. These single-celled organisms are commonly found in fresh water and soil.

Other causes of keratitis can include:

While corneal ulcers are usually treatable, in severe cases, it can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness.

Treatment for Keratitis

The treatment of corneal ulcers will depend on the cause of the condition. You may be prescribed antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral eye drops or tablets to help fight any infection in your eyes. In some cases, you may be given steroidal eye drops; however, these should only be used under the close supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Laser Eye Surgery and Corneal Ulcers

If you have a corneal ulcer, you will be unable to undergo Laser Eye Surgery until the affected eye(s) has fully recovered. If you have had corneal ulcers in the past, this is unlikely to be a contraindication for Laser Eye Surgery, meaning that you will most likely be suitable for treatment (depending on the results of your consultation) once your symptoms have improved.

Your eye doctor will assess your eye health and overall health during your comprehensive screening appointment. This allows us to accurately determine your suitability for Laser Eye Surgery and identify the best course of action for you.

Keratitis After Laser Eye Surgery

In rare cases, corneal ulcers may develop where infection occurs after Laser Refractive Surgery (LRS). This is known as post-LRS infectious keratitis. Current figures indicate that post-LRS keratitis may occur in between 0% and 1.5% of cases; however, this can usually be treated quickly and the majority of patients presenting with ulcers after Laser Eye Surgery go on to achieve 20/40 or greater vision.

Furthermore, the risk of complications is even smaller when the procedure is performed by an expert surgeon with access to the latest technology.

If you’d like to learn more about your suitability for Laser Eye Surgery, one of our friendly clinic coordinators is always happy to help. Get in touch or Book a Consultation today to start your journey to clear glasses- and contact lens-free vision.