Marginal Keratitis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Marginal keratitis is a disease of eye characterized by inflammation of outer edge of cornea. Cornea is a clear and transparent front portion of the eye. It is dome shaped tissue which lies directly in front of the iris and pupil. Light enters through cornea and passes inside the eye. Almost 70 percent of focusing power is provided by cornea.

The major cause of marginal keratitis is long standing staphylococcal blepheritis. Another less common reason for its occurrence is wearing contact lens for long period of time in presence of eye irritation. Symptoms include scratchy sensation and pain in eye, redness, soreness, watering from the eyes. Eye discharge and sensitivity to light are other symptoms of marginal keratitis. Diagnosis of marginal keratitis is confirmed with the help of slit lamp. Treatment consists of antibacterial and steroid eye drops as well as warm compresses and massage of the eyelid to remove the blockage in the oil gland.


Cornea is an important structure in the anterior segment of the eye. It is a transparent tissue in front of the eye surrounded in the periphery by the white (sclera) of an eye.

Light enters into the eye through cornea. It also helps in focusing of light in the eye. Knowing all this important function, any problem to cornea can be harmful for the eyesight. Marginal keratitis is an eye condition in which the peripheral margin of the cornea gets inflamed. Most of the time this occurs due to a condition called blepheritis. Blepheritis is swelling of the margin of the eyelid and the base of eyelashes. One of the frequent and common causes of blepheritis is staphylococcal infection of the eyelid. The bacteria form a biofilm which cause inflammation of the meibomian glands. These glands produce oil that helps in lubricating the surface of eye including cornea. The staphylococcal infection can spread from the eyelids to surface of the eye and in the outer edge of cornea resulting in a condition called marginal keratitis.


Patient suffering from marginal keratitis may develop following symptoms:

  • Formation of crusts on the margin of eyelids and white flakes like dandruff at the base of eyelashes. These are prominent symptoms of blepheritis which in most cases is the cause for marginal keratitis.
  • Scratchy feeling in the eye as if presence of some foreign body in the eye.
  • Redness and watering
  • Severe irritation in the eye
  • Discharge of mucus from the eye.
  • Increased light sensitivity and photophobia.


Marginal keratitis is diagnosed with the help of slit lamp. It is an instrument used by ophthalmologists to examine the eye. Once detected, treatment consists of addressing the bacterial infection in the eyelids as well as warm compresses and eyelid massage. Eyelid hygiene is of great value when treating blepheritis. Here is simple procedure that can be used:

  • Warm compresses: Soak a cotton ball in warm water. Wring out excess of water and gently use slight pressure to clean the margin of the closed eyelid. Warm compress helps to clear off the dandruff from the lashes and also removes the blockage of the oil glands.
  • Eyelid massage: Massage your eyelids with your index finger in circular motion. It will remove the blockage of the oil glands in the periphery of the eyelids.
  • Eyelid scrubbing: A cotton bud is dampened in warm water. The edges of eyelid are cleaned with the bud. At the same time, dandruff at the base of eyelashes is also removed.

Along with the above treatment measures, antibiotic eye drops and steroid eye drops are used every 5 hourly to reduce inflammation of the cornea and for quick recovery from the illness.