The unique structure of the human eye as well as exposure of the eye directly to the environment renders it vulnerable to a number of uncommon infectious diseases caused by fungi and parasites. Host defenses directed against these microorganisms, once anatomical barriers are breached, are often insufficient to prevent loss of vision.
Therefore, the timely identification and treatment of the involved microorganisms are paramount. The anatomy of the eye and its surrounding structures is presented with an emphasis upon the association of the anatomy with specific infection of fungi and parasites. For example, filamentous fungal infections of the eye are usually due to penetrating trauma by objects contaminated by vegetable matter of the cornea or globe or, by extension, of infection from adjacent paranasal sinuses. Fungal endophthalmitis and chorioretinitis, on the other hand, are usually the result of antecedent fungemia seeding the ocular tissue. Candida spp. are the most common cause of endogenous endophthalmitis, although initial infection with the dimorphic fungi may lead to infection and scarring of the chorioretina. Contact lens wear is associated with keratitis caused by yeasts, filamentous fungi, and Acanthamoebae spp. Most parasitic infections of the eye, however, arise following bloodborne carriage of the microorganism to the eye or adjacent structures.
Corneal ulcer, or ulcerative keratitis, is an inflammatory or more seriously, infective condition of the cornea involving disruption of its epithelial layer with involvement of the corneal stroma. It is a common condition in humans particularly in the tropics and the agrarian societies. In developing countries, children afflicted by Vitamin A deficiency are at high risk for corneal ulcer and may become blind in both eyes, which may persist lifelong. In ophthalmology, a corneal ulcer usually refers to having an infectious etiology while the term corneal abrasion refers more to physical abrasions.