What is the cornea?
The cornea is the transparent part of the eye that covers the front portion of the eye including the pupil, iris, and anterior chamber. The cornea’s main function is to refract, or bend, light and is responsible for focusing most of the light that enters the eye.
Symptoms of corneal conditions
The cornea is typically able to repair itself quickly following injury or disease. However, when there is a deep injury to the cornea the healing process may be prolonged, possibly resulting in a variety of symptoms, including:
- Blurred vision
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Corneal scarring
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your eye doctor as they may be the result of a more serious problem or a condition that requires special treatment.
Main Types of Corneal Conditions
The most common corneal conditions include:
- Corneal ulcer: With ulcers patients experience mild to severe eye pain and discharge. Patients can experience significant vision loss. Most corneal ulcers are due to an infection of the eye. Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to this as bacteria can get trapped under the lens. To decrease your risk of ulcers practice good hygiene and avoid touching your eyes too often.
- Pterygium: Caused by over-exposure to sunlight, a Pterygium is a visible, non-cancerous growth on the surface of the eye. Although most cases of pterygium are not dangerous, they may continue to grow and cover the eye, impairing your vision.
- Keratoconus: Keratoconus is a condition in which the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. The change in corneal shape brings light rays out of focus resulting in blurry distorted vision. One or both eyes may be affected.
- Corneal Dystrophy: Corneal Dystrophy is a group of eye conditions that cause a buildup of foreign material in the layers of the cornea. Some patients may not experience symptoms right away but could have decreased vision and eye discomfort as a result.
- Keratitis: Typically the result of an infection or an injury, Keratitis is a condition in which the cornea becomes inflamed. This condition may lead to serious eye pain and blurred vision. To avoid loss of vision, patients should see a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Corneal Abrasion: A corneal abrasion is a superficial scratch on the cornea, which is easily scratched by dust particles, dirt, or sand. Because the eye is very sensitive, patients may feel significant pain until they seek treatment.