Everything You Need to Know About Keratoconjunctivitis

What Is Keratoconjunctivitis?

Keratoconjunctivitis (k-o-r-a-t-ok-tis) is a common condition affecting the cornea, which causes redness, swelling and pain. The term “keratosis pilaris” refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva due to keratinization of the corneas.

The cause of keratectomycosis pilaris is unknown, but it may result from exposure to a virus or bacteria. The most likely explanation is contact with animals such as dogs and cats. Other possible causes include trauma, infection, allergic reaction, radiation therapy and even sunlight.

Symptoms of keratoconjunctivitis are usually present within one month after the onset of symptoms. They include:

Redness, swelling and pain in the eye area.

Blurred vision.

A burning sensation when looking into bright light.

Tenderness around the eyes and nose area.

Nausea and vomiting.

Diarrhea or constipation (watery diarrhea).

It is important that you seek medical attention if symptoms persist because it can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.

Diagnostic tests are the only way to confirm the presence of keratectomycosis pilaris. A sample of skin cells (biopsy) can be used to make a definitive diagnosis.

The two types of keratectomycosis pilaris are based on the age of the patient and their cause: juvenile and adult.

Juvenile keratectomycosis pilaris

The main cause of juvenile keratectomycosis pilaris is thought to be immunodeficiency, which makes children more prone to infections. There are two types based on the age at which it is diagnosed:


Presents within the first three months after birth and affects around 90% of children with this condition. The main symptoms are skin rashes and mild swelling around the eye area. Vision loss is rare in this type.

Presentation after three months and up to six years of age.

Encompasses symptoms from both types of keratectomycosis pilaris and can also include grayish-white dots or specks (keratosis) on the inside of the lower eyelid.

Adult keratectomycosis pilaris

Males are more likely to develop adult keratectomycosis pilaris than females. The condition is thought to be related to the immune system and may be linked to certain diseases caused by a virus or bacteria. If it’s related to an infection then the infection can spread through the body and cause further health problems.

Signs and symptoms of adult keratectomycosis pilaris include:

Itching, redness and swelling of the eye area.

Dry skin.

Grayish-white dots or specks (keratosis) on the inside of the lower eyelid.

Blurred or double vision due to swelling around the eye area.

Treatment of keratectomycosis pilaris focuses on relieving the main symptoms and may include:

Corticosteroid eye drops.

Anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

Systemic antibiotics by mouth.

Avoiding certain allergens (if an allergic reaction is thought to be the cause).

Sun protection.

As keratectomycosis pilaris is a permanent condition, long-term treatment is required.

The outlook for keratectomycosis pilaris is generally good. Most children grow out of the infantile type, however, the condition can persist into adulthood in some cases. Vision loss is rare and only tends to occur if the condition is severe.

Sources & references used in this article:

Studies on the etiology of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis by E Jawetz, SJ Kimura, L Hanna, VR Coleman… – American Journal of …, 1955 – ajo.com

Systemic cyclosporin A in severe atopic keratoconjunctivitis by KS Cornish, ME Gregory… – European journal of …, 2010 – journals.sagepub.com

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca and primary Sjögren’s syndrome in a Danish population aged 30–60 years by KB Bjerrum – Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavica, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

Comparison of lodoxamide 0.1% ophthalmic solution and levocabastine 0.05% ophthalmic suspension in vernal keratoconjunctivitis by P Verin, R Allewaert, JC Joyaux… – European journal of …, 2001 – journals.sagepub.com

The epidemiology of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis by P Thygeson – Transactions of the American Ophthalmological …, 1948 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Clinical grading of atopic keratoconjunctivitis by M Calonge, JM Herreras – Current opinion in allergy and clinical …, 2007 – journals.lww.com

Ultrastructural study of the conjunctiva in patients with keratoconjunctivitis sicca not associated with systemic disorders by L Rivas, A Toledano, MI Alvarez… – European journal of …, 1998 – journals.sagepub.com

Allergy and infections: long-term improvement of vernal keratoconjunctivitis following viral conjunctivitis by R Sgrulletta, S Bonini, A Lambiase, S Bonini – 2006 – journals.sagepub.com

Nosocomial ultraviolet keratoconjunctivitis by JW Sensakovic, LG Smith – Infection Control & Hospital …, 1982 – cambridge.org