What Is a Corneal Ulcer?
At the front
of the eye is a clear layer of tissue called the cornea. The cornea is the
window of your eye and permits light to enter the eye. Tears defend the cornea against
bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
A corneal ulcer is an open sore
that forms on the cornea. It’s usually caused by an infection. Even small
injuries to the eye or erosion caused by wearing contact lenses too long can
lead to infections.
Why Do Corneal Ulcers
cause of corneal ulcers is infection.
infection most often occurs in contact lens wearers.
Herpes Simplex Keratitis
simplex keratitis is a viral infection that causes repeated flare-ups, which
involve lesions or sores in the eye. A number of things can trigger flare-ups,
including stress, prolonged exposure to sunlight, or anything that weakens the
This is a
fungal infection that develops after an injury to the cornea involving a plant
or plant material. Fungal keratitis can also develop in people with weakened
of corneal ulcers include:
unsterilized contact lenses
wear expired soft contact lenses or wear disposable contact lenses for an
extended period (including overnight) are at an increased risk for developing
What Are the Symptoms of a
notice signs of an infection before you’re aware of the corneal ulcer. Symptoms
of an infection include:
discharge from the eye
or stinging sensation in the eye
or pink eye
signs of the corneal ulcer itself include:
spot on your cornea
or eye discharge
- feeling like something is in your
eye (foreign body sensation)
symptoms of corneal ulcers are severe and should be treated immediately to
prevent blindness. A corneal ulcer itself looks like
a gray or white area or spot on the usually transparent cornea. Some corneal
ulcers will be too small to see without magnification, although you will be able
to feel the symptoms.
How Is a Corneal Ulcer
doctor can diagnose corneal ulcers during an eye exam.
used to check for a corneal ulcer is a fluorescein eye stain. This test involves placing a drop of orange
dye onto a thin piece of blotting paper. The blotting paper then lightly touches
the surface of your eye to transfer the dye to your eye. The doctor will then
shine a special violet light onto your eye to look for any areas that appear
green through a special microscope called a slit-lamp. Corneal damage will show
green when the violet light shines on it.
doctor spots an ulcer on your cornea, they will investigate to find out its
cause. Your doctor may determine the cause by numbing your eye with eye drops,
then gently scraping the ulcer to obtain a sample. He will test the sample to
find out if it contains bacteria, fungi, or a virus.
What Is the Treatment for a
eye doctor discovers the cause of the corneal ulcer, they can prescribe an
antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral eye medication to treat the underlying
problem. If the infection is bad, your doctor may put you on antibacterial eye
drops while they test the ulcer scrapings to find out the cause of the
infection. In addition, you may have to use corticosteroid eye drops. Doctors
normally prescribe these drops in cases where the eye is inflamed and swollen.
treatment, your doctor will likely ask you to avoid the following:
your eye unnecessarily
cases, the corneal ulcer may warrant a corneal transplant. A corneal transplant
involves the surgical removal of the corneal tissue and its replacement with
donor tissue. According to the Mayo Clinic, a corneal transplant is a
fairly safe procedure. But like any surgical procedure, there are risks. This
surgery may cause future health complications such as:
of the donor tissue
of glaucoma (pressure within the eye)
(clouding of the eye’s lens)
of the cornea
How Do I Prevent a Corneal
The best way
to prevent corneal ulcers is to seek treatment as soon as you develop any
symptom of an eye infection, or as soon as you receive an eye injury.
helpful preventive measures include:
sleeping while wearing your contact lenses
and sterilizing your contacts before and after wearing them
your eyes to remove any foreign objects
your hands before touching your eyes
What Is the Long-Term
may also develop a severe loss of vision along with visual obstruction due to
scarring over the retina. Corneal ulcers can also cause permanent scarring on
the eye. In rare cases, the entire eye may suffer damage.
corneal ulcers are treatable, and most people recover quite well after
treatment, a reduction in eyesight may occur.