The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped front part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil. It allows light to enter the eye. A corneal ulcer (also called keratitis) is an open sore on the cornea.
Most Common Cause of Corneal Ulcer
Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by eye infections.
- Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to bacterial infections — especially if they use extended-wear lenses.
- Sometimes corneal ulcers are caused by the herpes simplex virus (the virus associated with cold sores).
- The chicken pox and shingles virus (varicella) may also cause corneal ulcers.
Improper use of contact lenses and steroid drops can give rise to fungal infections which may lead to a corneal ulcer.
Additionally, acanthamoeba, a parasite found in fresh water and soil, can result in a bad infection and in turn a corneal ulcer if it enters the eye.
Other Risk Factors of Corneal Ulcers
Other risk factors for corneal ulcers include:
- dry eye syndrome
- Bell’s palsy
- other conditions that impede eyelid function (abrasions, scrapes, cuts, or burns to the eye)
Symptoms of a Corneal Ulcer
A hallmark of a corneal ulcer is severe pain in the eye. Other symptoms include:
- eye redness
- the feeling that something is in the eye
- discharge and tears coming out of the eye
- blurry vision
- sensitivity to light
- eyelid swelling
- developing a white spot on the cornea
Corneal Ulcer: Diagnosis and Treatment
An ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can diagnose a corneal ulcer. Not only is it a serious problem, but it is also considered an eye emergency because it can threaten vision.
Treatments can range from eye drops to medication taken by mouth or injected near the eye. Surgical intervention may also be indicated.
Sometimes even after treatment, a scar remains on the cornea. In such cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary to improve a patient’s vision.
If you’re located in Central New Jersey and believe you may have a corneal ulcer, don’t hesitate — contact our office to set up an evaluation.