Corneal Ulcers

Doctor examining a patient's eyes

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an infection of the cornea. The cornea is a clear window that covers the front of the eye, similar to the clear crystal in front of the watch.

Causes of Corneal Ulcer?

Most corneal ulcers are caused by an infection such as bacterial infection, viral infection, fungal infection or parasitic infections. Other conditions that result in a corneal ulcer include severe dry eyes, bells palsy, abnormal eyelid structure.

Certain patients are at increased risk of developing corneal ulcers. These include:

  • Contact lens users
  • Patients with a history of cold sores or chicken pox
  • Patients who use steroid drops
  • Patients with severe dry eyes disease
  • Patients with eyelid disorders

Symptoms of a Corneal Ulcer Include:

  • Decreased vision
  • Redness of the eye
  • Severe pain and soreness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A feeling of having something in your eye (like a grain of sand)
  • Tearing
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Pus or other discharge
  • A white spot on your cornea

It is important to see an ophthalmologist immediately if you have symptoms of a corneal ulcer. If a corneal ulcer is not treated promptly and appropriately it can cause permanent damage to your vision and even blindness.

Diagnosis and Treatment of corneal ulcer

A detailed eye exam in required to evaluate the full extent of the damage from a corneal ulcer. Sometimes your ophthalmologist may take a tiny tissue sample to properly identify the cause of the ulcer.

Antibiotic, antifungal or antiviral eye drops are the treatments of choice. It can take several weeks for the infection to heal.

In some cases, a significant corneal scar remains after the infection is gone; resulting in poor vision. In these cases, a corneal transplant may be done to improve vision.