Microbial keratitis (MK) is a potentially blinding condition which must be treated emergently to preserve vision. Although long recognized as a significant cause of corneal blindness, our understanding of its true global scale, associated burden of disease, and etiological patterns remains somewhat limited. Current epidemiological data suggests that MK may be epidemic in parts of the world--particularly within South, South-East and East Asia--and may exceed two million cases per year world-wide. Etiological patterns vary between economically developed and developing countries, with bacterial predominance in the former and fungal predominance in the latter. The key to effective management lies in timely diagnosis; however, the current gold standard of stain and culture remains time consuming and often yields no clinically useful results. For this reason, there are attempts to develop highly sensitive and accurate molecular diagnostic tools to provide rapid diagnosis, inform treatment decision making, and minimize the threat of antimicrobial resistance. We provide an overview of these key areas and of avenues for further research toward the goal of more effectively addressing the problem of MK on both an individual and public health level.