The cornea is the clear, protective outer layer of the eye. Along with the sclera (also known as the white of the eye), it serves as a barrier against dirt, germs, and other particles that can harm the eye’s delicate components. The cornea is also capable of filtering out some of the sun’s UV rays.
If your cornea becomes damaged from disease, infection or injury, the resulting scars can interfere with your vision by blocking or distorting the light as it enters your eye.
The cornea has an ability for relatively quick repair and usually heals fine after most minor injuries or infections. However, during the healing process, a variety of symptoms may be experienced. These can include pain, blurred vision, tearing, redness, or extreme sensitivity to light. These symptoms can occur with other types of eye problems and can indicate a more serious problem.
Keratitis: Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea that sometimes occurs with infection after viruses, bacteria or fungi enter the cornea. These microorganisms can enter the eye after an injury and can cause infection, inflammation, and ulceration of the cornea. Although not as common, this type of inflammation can also occur with contact lens injury.
Corneal Ulcers: Corneal ulcers generally cause the eye to become painful and red with mild to severe eye discharge and reduced vision. Most often corneal ulcers are due to a bacterial infection that invades the cornea – usually following eye injury, trauma, or other other damage. Individuals who wear contacts are particularly susceptible to eye irritation that can cause corneal ulcers. A contact lens may rub across the eye’s surface, creating slight damage to the epithelium that may enable bacteria to penetrate the eye. If you wear contact lenses, you can decrease your risk for corneal ulcers by practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands before handling lenses and limiting contact use to no more than 12 hours a day.
Shingles: Shingles is a recurrence of the chickenpox virus in people who have had the disease. After a bout of chickenpox, the virus remains in your body, but inactive within the nerves of your body. Later on, it can travel down these nerves, infecting specific parts of the body including the eye.
Ocular Herpes: Ocular herpes is an infection of the eye that can reoccur. The main cause of ocular herpes is the herpes simplex virus (HSV 1), the same herpes that causes cold sores, but it can also occur with HSV 2, the sexually transmitted herpes simplex virus that causes genital herpes. Ocular herpes produces sores on the surface of the cornea, which can worsen and spread deeper into the cornea and eye. There is no cure for ocular herpes, but it can usually be controlled with the use of antiviral drugs or steroid eyedrops.
Your eye heath is important to your quality of life. Schedule an appointment with us today if you have any questions regarding corneal conditions and your eye care health.