Corneal Diseases: Everything You Need to Know

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The cornea is a fundamental part of the eye, it is the transparent dome that covers and protects both the iris and the pupil. Being an external layer, it is exposed to numerous situations and agents that can affect it, causing corneal diseases. 

The origin of this type of condition may be due to the ultraviolet rays emanating from the sun, the weather, self-medication or poorly performed surgical procedures, among other causes. If diseases are not properly treated by an eye health professional, it can lead to irreversible blindness.

 

What happens if the cornea is damaged?

Your corneas are your windows to the world, that is, they are the transparent domes that form the front of your eyes. When light enters your eye, the curved edge of the cornea bends the light rays. This helps with visual focus. Additionally, the cornea serves as a defence against dirt and bacteria.

Simply put, the health and function of your eyes depend greatly on your cornea. As a result, severe corneal injury and advanced corneal disease can impair vision; however, there are medications, specialised laser treatments, and corneal transplants that can be used to treat these conditions. 

 

What diseases affect the cornea?

Conditions in the cornea can refer to problems on its surface, in its structure, infections, dystrophies and opacity:

 

Keratitis

It is the most common condition usually caused by dry eye. It is damage to its surface in the form of dots or lines and produces symptoms such as burning, difficulty opening the eyes in the morning and blurred vision. Its treatment is carried out with the management of dry eye according to its origin.

Another less common cause is ingrown eyelashes (Distichiasis) and its management would be permanent cauterization of the eyelashes that did not grow properly.

 

Dystrophy of the cornea  

It is a genetic disorder that usually affects both eyes. Corneal dystrophies refer to the accumulation of foreign material in one or several layers of the cornea, which consists of five.

This abnormal material causes the cornea to lose transparency, which manifests as blurred vision or blindness. One of the most common treatments for more than 20 types of dystrophies is a corneal transplant.

 

Corneal allergy

It is also known as Kerato allergic conjunctivitis. It occurs in people whose immune system is very sensitive. Faced with allergens, bacteria or viruses that are generally harmless, histamine is produced, a reaction that inflames and reddens the eyes.

 

Ulcers of the cornea

Its causes are eye infections caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Its most common cause is the misuse of contact lenses or the mismanagement of diseases of the eyelid margin such as Blepharitis. In other cases, they originate from open wounds caused by scratches.

 

Corneal opacity

When the cornea loses its transparency and becomes opaque, we speak of corneal opacity, a disorder caused by inflammation of the eye or prolonged use of contact lenses or virus infection that leaves a scar as a sequel.

 

Keratoconus

It is a disease in which the structure of the cornea is altered, which acquires a conical shape that progressively deteriorates vision. To treat it, glasses, intracorneal rings, corneal transplantation or other treatments such as crosslinking for keratoconus can be used.

The severity of the illness determines the best course of action. The latter involves exposing the cornea to UVA radiation in order to strengthen its collagen. It serves as an effective substitute for corneal transplantation and is advised.

It is important that the keratoconus treatment by the operation is carried out in a specialized ophthalmological clinic (such as God Service Eye Clinic), which has the most advanced technology at its disposal. In this way, the procedure will be successful and without any side effects.

 

Corneal edema

It is a swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in the cornea, as a result of a trauma suffered by the eye, a poorly performed surgery, high intraocular pressure or a congenital disorder.

 

Symptoms of diseases of the cornea

Several common conditions can affect the cornea, including eye infections, corneal abrasions (scratches to the surface of the eye), and dry eye. Symptoms may include:

- Eye discomfort

- Red or watery eyes

- Blurry vision

- Sensitivity to light

 

Treatment of corneal disorders

Regarding the treatment of corneal ulcers, they require very concentrated and frequent doses of antibiotic eye drops. Corneal herpes is treated with aciclovir, whether associated or not with topical corticosteroids. The treatment of scarring opacities that compromise vision goes through Corneal Transplants to restore transparency.

Within the "chronic" pathology of the cornea, Superficial Punctate Keratitis stands out. There are multiple and small wounds on the corneal surface (epithelium), which are associated with states of tear insufficiency (Dry Eye Syndrome) or continuous damage to the cornea.

For example, chlorine from swimming pools, by preservatives or ingredients. eye drops in prolonged treatments, due to the toxicity of the germs of the conjunctiva or eyelids, due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, etc.

The clinic consists of the sensation of "grit" and the lesser or greater visual affectation depending on its extent and location. The treatment consists of avoiding the toxic agent and lubricating it with artificial tears.

The treatment of any of the diseases of the cornea is vital to improve vision and even avoid the complete loss of this sense. Consult optometrists and ophthalmologists regularly to take care of your eyes.

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