A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, which is the clear part of the eye covering the iris and the round pupil. There are many different causes of corneal ulcers. If left unattended, the condition can lead to lasting problems, including loss of vision or complete blindness.
Majority of corneal ulcers are preventable, so taking the necessary measures can reduce your risk. If you develop a corneal ulcer, immediate treatment is necessary to properly heal it and avoid additional complications.
Corneal ulcer diagnosis
An ophthalmologist can detect a corneal ulcer through an eye exam. They will use a specific microscope to look at the eye. They will also use specific eye drops that make the ulcer more visible. Your doctor may scrape the ulcer and send the sample to the laboratory to detect bacteria, virus, or fungus.
If left untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to severe vision loss or worse, loss of the eye.
It’s important that you see an eye specialist the moment you suspect a corneal ulcer.
Corneal ulcer treatment
Depending on the cause of your corneal ulcer, be it bacteria, virus, or fungal infection, appropriate treatment will be prescribed. Treatment can come in the form of eye drops or ointments. For viral infections, oral medications are often prescribed.
If there is excessive drying or aggravation in the eye, your doctor may recommend a bandage or patch to cover the eye to prevent further damage.
If corneal ulcer is caused by an injury, then whatever there is in the eye must be carefully removed and medication is prescribed to prevent infection and promote healing.
If the corneal ulcer is caused by an inward growing eyelash, then the eyelash must be removed. If the eyelash continues to grow inward, then it will have to be destroyed using a low-voltage electrical current.
During treatment, contact lenses should be avoided.
In severe cases, when medications are not effective, surgery may be required. If the ulcer threatens the thickness of the cornea or threatens to permeate the cornea, then a cornea transplant is required.
In some cases, a corneal ulcer can result from an autoimmune disorder, so treatment for that disorder will be prescribed.
Corneal ulcer prevention and prognosis
Completely preventing a corneal ulcer is difficult as there are so many different causes. Generally, it’s important that you avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands, avoid injury to the eyes, and ensure your contact lenses are being used correctly and are always clean.
It’s important that you see an eye specialist the moment you notice changes to the eye or experience symptoms related to corneal ulcer. The earlier the treatment is administered, the better your outcome will be.
Prognosis depends on the size and location of the ulcer. There may be some degree of scarring, but if treatment is conducted early on, the threat of vision loss is largely diminished. In the case of a deep, dense, and central ulcer, there may be changes in vision.