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Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of fungal endophthalmitis

Marlene L Durand, MD
Carol A Kauffman, MD
Section Editors
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Jonathan Trobe, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna R Thorner, MD


Fungal endophthalmitis due to yeasts (eg, Candida albicans) differs from that due to molds (eg, Aspergillus or Fusarium spp). Yeast-associated endophthalmitis is usually endogenous (secondary to fungemia), and treatment is often successful, whereas mold endophthalmitis is usually exogenous (occurring after trauma, surgery, or keratomycosis) and often results in permanent loss of vision.

The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis of fungal endophthalmitis will be reviewed here. The management of fungal endophthalmitis is discussed separately; bacterial endophthalmitis, Fusarium keratitis, and candidemia and other types of Candida infections are also presented elsewhere. (See "Treatment of endogenous endophthalmitis due to Candida species" and "Treatment of exogenous endophthalmitis due to Candida species" and "Treatment of endophthalmitis due to molds" and "Bacterial endophthalmitis" and "Mycology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of Fusarium infection", section on 'Keratitis' and "Treatment of candidemia and invasive candidiasis in adults" and "Overview of Candida infections".)


The term "endophthalmitis" means bacterial or fungal infection within the eye and usually implies infection of the vitreous and/or aqueous (figure 1).

Endogenous fungal endophthalmitis — Endogenous fungal endophthalmitis results from fungal seeding of the eye via the bloodstream. In most cases, the highly vascular choroid is seeded first. As a consequence, endogenous fungal endophthalmitis often presents with choroiditis or chorioretinitis (infection localized to the choroid or the choroid and retina), with minimal inflammation in the vitreous or aqueous. As the infection worsens, marked vitritis develops and the aqueous may also become involved.

The distinction between fungal choroiditis or chorioretinitis and endophthalmitis (ie, with marked vitritis) is important for making decisions about treatment, and we will specify the degree of involvement in the discussion below.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 24, 2017.
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