A corneal ulcer is described as an open sore that develops on the cornea. The cornea is a transparent tissue layer at the front part of the eye which allows light to enter. The tears are responsible for protecting the cornea against viruses, bacteria and fungi.
An ulcer is usually brought about by an infection. Minor eye injuries or erosion due to wearing contact lenses for long periods of time can result to infections.
Why does an ulcer form?
The main reason for the formation of a corneal ulcer is infection.
- Herpes simplex keratitis – this is a viral infection that results to recurrent flare-ups of sores or lesions in the eye. The usual triggers include stress, extensive exposure to sunlight or anything that weakens the immune system.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis – this infection typically arises among those who use contact lenses. It is a rare amoebic infection but can lead to blindness.
- Fungal keratitis – this develops after sustaining an injury to the cornea involving a plant or plant material. This infection can also develop among those who have weakened immune systems.
Other possible causes of a corneal ulcer include eye injury, dry eye, vitamin A deficiency, inflammatory disorders and using contaminated contact lenses.
What are the indications?
The individual might notice indications of an infection before being aware of having a corneal ulcer. The indications of an infection include:
- Watery eye
- Itchy eye
- Pink or red eye
- Light sensitivity
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eye
- Pus-like drainage from the eye
The indications of a corneal ulcer include:
- Sore eye
- Eye inflammation
- Blurry vision
- Excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- White spots on the cornea
- Eye drainage or pus
- Swollen eyelids
- Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
Remember that all the indications of a corneal ulcer are severe and must be treated right away to prevent blindness. Take note that a corneal ulcer appears as a grayish or white spot on the transparent cornea. In some cases, the ulcers are too small to be seen without using magnification, but the symptoms can be felt.
Once the cause of the corneal ulcer is determined, the doctor might prescribe an antifungal, antibacterial or antiviral eye medication.
If the infection is severe, the doctor might prescribe antibacterial eye drops while testing the ulcer scrapings to pinpoint the cause. Additionally, if the eye is swollen and inflamed, corticosteroid eye drops might be prescribed.
While under treatment, the doctor will instruct the individual to avoid the following:
- Wearing eye makeup
- Using contact lenses
- Touching the eye unnecessarily
- Using other medications
Are corneal transplants needed?
In severe cases, a corneal ulcer might require a corneal transplant. This involves the surgical removal of the corneal tissue and replaced with a donor tissue.