A Study on the Epidemiological and Microbiological Aspects of Keratomycosis, Hyderabad, South India

Corneal diseases are one of the main causes of vision loss and blindness. Ocular morbidity in turn is mainly caused by Fungal Keratitis, throughout the world and especially in Asia. Isolation of the etiological agent and accurate diagnosis are important for the successful treatment of this disease. In extreme cases of infection the fungi penetrate the Descemet's membrane ultimately leading to tissue necrosis. Under such conditions, corneal transplantation is the most effective cure. The corneas that are excised are stored in Mc Carey Kaufmann (MK) media. The objective of this study was to analyze the epidemiological and microbiological features, pre disposing factors associated with Fungal Keratitis. During the study period of June 8 to July 31 2009, 100 clinically suspected cases of fungal keratitis were chosen. Corneal scraping samples were collected for analysis and in cases where the fungi had penetrated deeper into the tissue corneal buttons or the abscessed iris samples were collected. Analysis of the results indicated that males were more susceptible to the disease over females, the occupational status being the major determinant. Manual labor (30%), followed by agriculture (21%) were the two highest affected groups. The duration of the symptoms as well as a detailed history of the patients was documented. Under the microbiological findings, both filamentous fungi and yeasts were recovered from the cultures, though filamentous fungi predominated (98.55%). Beyond understanding the epidemiological aspects of fungal keratitis, further study should aim at assessing the efficacy of the anti fungal activity of the drugs used in the treatment of the disease amongst varying populations. This can be done to analyze the most effective drug in order to avoid a penetrating keratoplasty procedure.

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One of the founding fathers of JYI, Brian Su, became the youngest person to co-PI a grant from the NSF. The purpose of the grant was to fund the start-up costs for JYI.
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