To evaluate the incidence, related perioperative factors, clinical characteristics, and possible etiologies of epithelial keratitis after cataract surgery.
A retrospective chart review of 666 eyes in 666 patients who underwent cataract surgery was performed to evaluate the incidence of epithelial keratitis and related factors in the postoperative period.
Postoperative epithelial keratitis developed in 15 eyes. Eleven of the 15 eyes were diagnosed with herpes simplex keratitis (HSK); 10 of the 11 eyes were diagnosed by polymerase chain reaction, and the remaining 1 eye by clinical diagnosis. All patients diagnosed with HSK had no previous clinical history of the infection before undergoing cataract surgery. Initially, the diagnosis of all 15 eyes was toxic keratitis, but the final diagnosis of 11 of the initial 15 was found to be epithelial herpes keratitis. The incision location was shown to be related to the occurrence of HSK in our study (P < 0.05).
HSK epithelial keratitis after cataract surgery is a relatively uncommon complication and can be misdiagnosed in its early disease course because of its relative rarity. This study explores the possibility that the temporal corneal penetrating incisional approach used in routine cataract surgery interrupts the corneal nerves and subsequently can trigger reactivation of HSK.