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Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study is to investigate the epidemiological and aetiological pattern of fungal corneal ulcers treated in Hospital Bintulu, Sarawak.
Study design: Cross-sectional study.
Methods: This study is based on the data collected from clinical records of patients with culture-positive fungal corneal ulcer who presented to Hospital Bintulu from 2016 to 2020. Data was analysed using descriptive statistical methods.
Results: A total of 13 patients had fungal corneal ulcer. Males (84.6%) were more commonly affected compared to females (15.4%). The age of the patients ranged from 19 to 67 years. The commonest age group involved was 21–40 years, constituting more than half of the patients (53.8%). The mean age of the patients was 38 years old. Fusarium sp. was isolated in eight of them (61.5%), all of which had a history of palm oil dust insertion into the eye prior to presentation. Other fungal pathogens found include Phellinus noxius sp. in two cases (15.4%) as well as Ascomyces sp., Nectriaceae sp., and Colletotrichum trunchatum sp. in one case each (7.6%). Hypopyon was seen in eight cases (61.5%), where six cases were caused by Fusarium sp. while Ascomyces sp. and Nectriaceae sp. contributed one case each. Mixed fungal and bacterial infection was seen in two cases (15.4%).
Conclusion: This study showed that Fusarium sp. is the commonest pathogen causing fungal corneal ulcer and affects predominantly young male plantation workers. The establishment of a proper framework to educate as well as strict enforcement of occupational safety may reduce the incidence of this disease in the population.