Corneal Ulcer / Corneal Abrasion

Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcers are infections of the cornea.  They are most often associated with soft contact lens use or trauma to the cornea.  A break in the surface layer of the cornea can occur, through which a microorganism can gain access to the rest of the cornea.  Prompt identification of the pathogen (usually bacteria) and aggressive treatment is needed to limit damage to the eye.

Symptoms:

  • Watery eyes
  • Acute pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • A feeling as something is in your eye
  • Discharge from the eye

Corneal ulcers generally heal well if treated early and aggressively.  In some cases however, infection of the cornea can lead to perforation (a hole in the cornea), infection inside the eye (endophthalmitis) and, rarely, loss of the eye.  Early testing possibly may be required to determine the cause of the infection.  This could include a diagnostic scraping culture or biopsy.  Our corneal specialists work with microbiologists and pathologists at nearby laboratories to obtain results of these tests quickly. Corneal ulcers are a serious vision-threatening condition and require prompt medical attention.


Corneal Abrasion

The cornea is the clear, outer window of the eye.  A corneal abrasion is simply a scratch in the epithelium (skin), or the thin, outer layer of the cornea.  Abrasions usually heal in a short time period, sometimes within hours. Deeper or larger scratches may take up to a week.  The cornea has a tremendous number of nerve endings, which makes any damage to the cornea very painful.

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion is simply a scratch in the outer layer of the cornea.

Symptoms:

  • History of a recent eye trauma
  • Watery eyes
  • Acute pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • The feeling that there’s something in your eye
  • Twitching eyelid

Causes:

  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Contact lenses
  • Chemicals
  • Blow to the eye
  • Scratched eye (fingernails, hairbrushes, tree branches, curling iron, etc)

Treatment:

Our corneal specialist may apply a topical anesthesia to help relieve the pain.  He also may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection.  If the abrasion is small, the epithelium should heal overnight.  If the abrasion is large, it may take a few days and your doctor may recommend a bandage contact lens or tight patch to wear overnight.  It is important that you do not rub your eye, especially during the healing process.

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