Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcers are a serious medical problem and they require immediate treatment. A corneal ulcer is a sore or open wound on the surface of the cornea.

The thin layer of tissue that covers the cornea is called the epithelium. Unfortunately, it is all too common for the epithelium to sustain damage from abrasions, irritants, and infections. When this damage is left untreated, it can result in erosion of the cornea and the formation of an ulcer.

Symptoms of a corneal ulcer

The cornea is extremely sensitive, so symptoms of a corneal ulcer will be obvious, especially if there is significant damage.

Here are just a few symptoms of a corneal ulcer: 

  • Severe eye pain 
  • Feeling of something stuck in the eye 
  • Red, irritated eyes 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Eye discharge 
  • Burning and itching 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Excessive tear production 
  • Eyelid swelling

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of a corneal ulcer

Most corneal ulcers are caused by bacteria entering the eye following an eye injury or trauma. The human eye is well protected, but bacteria can spread through even the smallest abrasions on the eye.

Other causes of corneal ulcers include: 

  • Viruses 
  • Fungi 
  • Severe allergies 
  • Eyelashes irritating the eye 
  • Lack of tear production 
  • Parasites 
  • Ocular herpes

Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to corneal ulcers. Prolonged wearing of contact lenses can irritate the eyes and rub against the surface of the eye, damaging the epithelial layer.

Treatment of a corneal ulcer

Without rapid treatment, corneal ulcers can cause vision loss and even blindness. Depending on the cause of the ulcer, treatment may include: 

  • Topical antibiotics 
  • Antiviral medications 
  • Antifungal medications

If the ulcer continues to spread it may be necessary to perform surgery; specifically, a corneal transplant. Throughout the course of treatment, medication can be prescribed to manage pain and discomfort.


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