Treating Corneal Disease & Injury
As the transparent outer layer of the eye, the cornea is particularly susceptible to trauma and infection. If the cornea is damaged through injury or disease, it can impair your ability to see clearly. The doctors at Broberg Eye Care treat several types of corneal disease and conditions, including Keratoconus, Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, keratitis, dry eyes, pterygium, and more. Contact us today to learn more.
Common side effects of corneal damage include:
- Eye pain
- Blurry or impaired vision
- Eye redness or irritation
- Excess tearing
- Severe sensitivity to light
Your doctor will conduct a series of tests during your appointment to determine the cause of your symptoms.
This progressive eye disease causes the cornea to thin and distort, altering the eye’s ability to see clearly. Depending on the level of distortion, it often results in astigmatism or nearsightedness. Other symptoms can include sensitivity to light, eye fatigue, headaches, and double vision. If left unaddressed, Keratoconus can lead to substantial loss of vision. Keratoconus can be corrected with glasses, custom-made soft contact lenses, or corneal transplantation.
Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy
Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is a chronic eye disorder that causes swelling in the endothelium, the innermost layer of the cornea, and gradually leads to corneal deterioration. In the beginning stages, it can result in blurry or foggy vision, but as the disorder progresses, it may lead to painful blisters on the corneal surface. Early stages of Fuchs’ dystrophy can be treated with medicated eye drops. Advanced cases will require a corneal transplant.
Keratitis is a type of corneal infection that causes inflammation within the protective outer layer of the eye. It is often the result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Keratitis can also be caused by a deep corneal abrasion, or in rare cases, prolonged wear of contact lenses. Our doctors offer effective treatment for keratitis, reducing the inflammation of the cornea and addressing the associated pain and discomfort. When this corneal infection is addressed promptly, it can typically be treated without long-term impaired vision. Delaying treatment can lead to serious complications, including permanent vision damage.
Symptoms and Causes of Keratitis
The symptoms of keratitis can range in levels of severity and may include:
- Eye pain and redness
- Blurry vision
- Increased light sensitivity
- Corneal tearing or discharge
- Decreased vision
- Difficulty opening and closing your eyelid
- Gritty sensation in the eye
Common causes of keratitis include:
- Eye injury: The smallest corneal abrasion from a fingernail or another object can allow bacteria or fungi to enter the cornea, causing inflammation, eye pain, and infection.
- Contaminated water: Swimming in chlorinated water, oceans, lakes, or rivers can increase your chances of developing keratitis. You are more susceptible to keratitis if your corneas have been damaged from a corneal abrasion or weakened from prolonged wear of contact lenses.
- Wearing contact lenses too long: Failing to change or clean your contact lenses regularly can cause microscopic parasites and bacteria to inhabit the surface of the contact lens and infect your eyes.
- Ocular herpes: This sub-type of viruses can affect different layers of the cornea and lead to recurrent bouts of keratitis.
In addition, you have a greater risk of developing keratitis if you live in a warm climate, use corticosteroid eye drops, wear contact lenses continuously, or have a weakened immune system due to disease or medications.
How to Treat Keratitis
Early detection of keratitis can help protect your eyesight and the longterm health of your eye. The type and severity of keratitis will determine the course of treatment your eye doctor prescribes.
Dry eye is a condition that can develop with age or be the result of eye surgery, disease, certain medications, or hormonal changes. Also simply known as dry eye, the condition affects your eye’s ability to produce tears for adequate lubrication. Side effects can include:
- Itchy eyes
- Gritty sensation in the eye
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
The type of treatment will depend on the exact cause. If dry eye is the result of medication you are taking, you can speak with your primary physician about adjusting your medication. In other cases, we may recommend over-the-counter or medicated eye drops to ease your symptoms. If side effects worsen or remain the same, we can insert punctal plugs to temporarily block the tear ducts.
Corneal abrasions occur when the outer layer of the eye has been scraped or damaged. This can result from a fingernail, sand, or other type of debris. Even the smallest scratch can cause eye pain, excess tearing, eye irritation, redness, and blurry vision. The moment the abrasion occurs, avoid rubbing your eyes or trying to treat it on your own. Doing so could cause additional damage. Most corneal abrasions heal within a few days by using medicated eye drops, resting the eye, and avoiding use of contact lenses.
Ocular herpes, also known as eye herpes or herpetic eye disease, is a type of corneal disease caused by a viral infection related to the herpes simplex virus I (HSV-I), known for causing cold sores. Although this infection can reoccur, the doctors at Broberg Eye Care can typically control the infection with antiviral drugs. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology™ (AAO), roughly 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with some form of herpetic eye disease each year.
A Closer Look at Herpetic Eye Disease
Herpetic eye disease causes sores and blisters to develop on the corneal surface. Over time, the inflammation can spread deeper into the cornea and cause permanent scarring and loss of vision. Symptoms often include:
- Swelling around the eyes
- Eye infection (oftentimes reoccurring)
- Excess tearing or discharge
- Eye redness and irritation
- Sensitivity to light
- Ongoing sensation of foreign object in the eye
There are several forms of the disease that range in severity, including:
- Herpes Keratitis: As the most common, this form affects the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium). If caught early, it will not cause permanent scarring.
- Herpes Stromal Keratitis: Although rare, this form affects the deeper layers of the cornea and is the leading cause of corneal scarring, known for causing loss of vision and blindness.
- Herpes Simplex Iridocyclitis: This form affects the iris and surrounding tissues within the eye. Iridocyclitis causes increased inflammation, swelling, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and eye pain.
- Herpes Retinitis: Once the infection penetrates the back of your eye, it can severely and permanently damage your retina. Symptoms can include impaired night vision, floaters, sensitivity to light, and loss of peripheral vision.
How Does the Condition Develop?
The herpes simplex virus is generally contracted when you come into close proximity with someone who has a cold sore or active outbreak. It can be transmitted through the nose or mouth. Once the herpes virus enters the body, it will travel into the nerves of your face where it can remain dormant for years or develop into an outbreak. Certain factors, such as stress, fever, trauma, or surgery, have been known to cause outbreaks. Although it typically only affects one eye, it can be easily transmitted to your other eye, especially if you rub both eyes while experiencing an outbreak.
Common Treatments for Ocular Herpes
If herpes is suspected, the Ophthalmologist will perform an eye exam using a slit lamp microscope to examine the corneal surface and underlying layers. You will also discuss your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing during the appointment.
Once you receive a diagnosis, the type of treatment we recommend will depend on the severity of the infection and how deep it has spread. For minor cases, antiviral eye drops, ointments, and oral medications can help control the infection and protect the cornea from further damage. Patients will be encouraged to avoid wearing contact lenses while undergoing treatment to prevent the infection from spreading. If the infection has spread deeper into the cornea, the doctor may prescribe steroid drops to reduce inflammation and prevent scarring.
If the cornea has been irreversibly damaged, or medication has been unsuccessful in controlling the infection, a corneal transplant may be required to restore your vision. During this procedure, the diseased cornea will be removed and replaced with healthy donor tissue.
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