Learn About Corneal Conditions and Treatment at The Eye Centers

The cornea is the anterior surface of the eye. It is like the crystal covering a clock face. The cornea covers the colored part of the eye, the iris and the pupil. the cornea helps to focus light entering the eye and plays an important role in vision. It has many nerves and corneal injuries, and disorders can be very painful.


A corneal abrasion is a cut or scrape of the outermost layer of the cornea called the epithelium. This injury may be caused by a fingernail scratch, paper cut, or scrape from a tree limb. Symptoms may include a feeling of something in the eye, pain, redness, tearing, blurred vision, or light sensitivity. Treatment may include patching the eye or placement of a bandage contact lens. Antibiotic eye drops may help prevent infection.


A corneal erosion is similar to an abrasion. The epithelial layer of the cornea is disrupted, but this usually occurs spontaneously, without recent trauma. Many times erosions occur upon awakening in the morning. Symptoms are similar to an abrasion. Treatments include patching, a bandage contact lens, or removal of the loose epithelium. Rarely a surgical procedure may be required if erosions recur.


Infection of the cornea can be serious and sight threatening. Most can be adequately treated if diagnosed and treated promptly. Some infections are caused by bacteria. Many bacterial infections are due to inappropriate use of contact lenses. Poor hygiene, wearing contact lenses longer than recommended, and poorly fitting contact lenses can increase the risk of infection. Viral infections of the cornea can be serious as well. Some viral infections are caused by reactivation of a virus from many years ago. Again, early diagnosis and treatment is important.

Fuchs’ Dystrophy

Fuchs’ Dystrophy involves problems with the inner layer of cells of the cornea called the endothelium. These cells work to maintain the fluid status and clarity of the central portion of the cornea. This disorder can lead to swelling of the cornea, resulting in blurred vision and pain. Fuchs’ Dystrophy usually occurs after age 40 and is an inherited condition. Treatment in early stages may include eye drops to decrease swelling. Some patients will require corneal transplantation. Newer surgical techniques allow a faster, more comfortable recovery.

Laser Vision Correction

Laser vision correction (LVC) is an elective procedure to correct refractive errors. LVC surgery alters the shape of the cornea to allow light to be focused appropriately on the retina. The goal of LVC is to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. LVC has potential risks for complication and not all patients are candidates for these procedures.


LASIK is designed to correct refractive errors by using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. An instrument called a microkeratome is used to create a flap of cornea tissue, then the laser is used to treat the cornea. Patients experience minimal discomfort and rapid recovery of vision in most cases. A special type of LASIK called Intralage uses a laser to create the corneal flap.


PRK is designed to correct refractive errors, also by using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Unlike LASIK, a microkeratome is not used to create a corneal flap. Instead, the surgeon removes the epithelium of the cornea, creating a corneal abrasion. The excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. A bandage contact lens is placed to help with post-operative discomfort.

Most patients are pleased with the results of LVC. There are, however, risks involved with these procedures, and there is no guarantee that you will be completely free of glasses or contact lenses.