A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea — the clear front window of the eye. The cornea covers the iris (the colored portion of the eye) and the round pupil, much like a watch crystal covers the face of a watch. A corneal ulcer usually results from an eye infection, though it can be caused by severe dry eye or other eye disorders.
• Redness of the eye
• Severe pain and soreness of the eye
• The feeling of having something in your eye
• Pus or other discharge
• Blurred vision
• Sensitivity to light
• Swelling of the eyelids
• A white spot on your cornea that you may or may not be able to see when looking in the mirror
Antibiotics, antifungal or antiviral eyedrops are the mainstay of treatment. Sometimes antifungal tablets will be prescribed, or an injection of medication is given near the eye for treatment.
Once any infection has diminished or is gone, then steroid or anti-inflammatory eyedrops may be used to reduce swelling and help prevent scarring. The use of steroid eyedrops is controversial and should only be used under close supervision by your Eye M.D. It is possible that steroid eyedrops may worsen an infection.
Oral pain medication may be prescribed to reduce pain.
If symptoms of corneal ulcer continue after treatment--including pain and redness of the eye, tearing and discharge from the eye and blurry vision—let your ophthalmologist know right away so a different course of treatment can be started promptly.
If corneal ulcers cannot be treated with medication, surgery may be needed to keep your vision. A corneal transplant can replace your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea to restore vision.
Collagen cross-linking with photoactivated riboflavin (PACK-CXL) is a new treatment shown to be beneficial in the treatment of advanced corneal ulcers and infectious keratitis (bacterial, fungal and amoebae) who have failed standard medical therapy. Recent studies have shown that PACK-CXL can prevent corneal melting and the need for urgent corneal transplantation.
We have the capability of providing this treatment both at our Baltimore, MD and our York, PA offices.
For more information on Corneal Ulcers, see our Patient Education Brochure, Here.
(C) 2011 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Used by Permission