What is Endophthalmitis?
Endophtalmitis is an internal eye infection, also known as an intraocular infection. There are many different types of endophthalmitis, but this section will focus on the most common type, called post-operative endophthalmitis. Most commonly, this condition occurs as a result of cataract surgery and afflicts about 1 in every 1,000 patients. The condition is not necessary attributed to poor surgical execution; it may occur even when the procedure is routine and uncomplicated. Of course, surgical complications may increase the incidence of this infection. Symptoms include sudden-onset vision deterioration, pain, and red eye, which usually occurs 3 to 12 days following surgery.
Who is at risk?
The most common cause of endophthalmitis is bad luck; in fact, every individual shares a 1 in 1000 chance of affliction. However, patients with a history of traumatic cataract, diabetes or those who experienced complications during surgery, are at an increased risk of infection. Post-operative endophthalmitis is classified as a bacterial infection, most often attributed to an organism, which can live benignly on the external portions of the eye. The most common bacterial species is a type of “staph” infection known as Staphylococcus epidermidis. Other “staph” and “strep” (streptococcal) species are only slightly less typical. The least common infectious bacteria are known as gram-negative organisms, the worst of which is an organism called Pseudomonas. Infection by this organism may lead to a poor prognosis.
Antibiotics and, sometimes, steroids are injected into the eye and the patient is started on frequent topical antibiotic eye-drops. Patients with very poor presenting acuity are sometimes scheduled for a vitrectomy (surgical removal of the vitreous humor) as this can improve the prognosis for that group of patients.
Despite the severity of this surgical complication, recent improvements in management and treatment have promised many patients a more favorable outcome. At the Retina Macula Institute we specialize in the most advanced treatments available, taking an aggressive and timely approach.