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Corneal Ulcers

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 18 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Corneal Ulcer; Injury; Disease;

The cornea is the fluid filled dome seen at the front of the eye. It is made up of several layers and is responsible for keeping our vision clear with clarity and definition.

What is Corneal Ulcer?

A corneal ulcer can develop as a result of injury or disease to the cornea; the term ulcer is used to describe an open sore or abrasion.

These ulcers can be either infectious or sterile and can also include an immunity response known as infiltrate which is a term given when cells gather in an area where they are unfamiliar.

Causes of Corneal Ulcers

There are many possible reasons why someone may develop a corneal ulcer. Those who wear contact lenses may be more susceptible due to the risk of infections, possible trauma to the cornea or because of not following guidelines as directed.

People who suffer from dry eye conditions or who have been diagnosed with the herpes virus are also more at risk as they are more vulnerable to the bacteria spreading to the eyes and causing infections and abrasions.

Eye lashes that tend to grow inwards can also result in a corneal ulcer occurring, especially if sufficient eye hygiene is not maintained. Persistently irritating eyelashes can be removed. Speak to your ophthalmic specialist for details on how to do this.

Signs and Symptoms

The early signs of a corneal ulcer include discomfort and irritation of the eyes. This can quickly lead to watering of the eyes, a discharge forming, pain and sensitivity to light.

Vision can become impaired and the person may be unable to continue with employment or daily tasks until it has been treated.

Early diagnosis is essential as some of the potential causes for the ulcer such as infection can be very aggressive and cause permanent or semi-permanent damage very quickly.

Treatment Options

Treatment options depend greatly on the cause of the ulcer. Infections cause by bacteria can be treated with eye drops containing anti-biotics, and in fact this is often the first line of treatment until an accurate diagnosis has been made, given as a precautionary measure.

Some times anti-inflammatory medicines will be offered and steroidal preparations to help reduce the irritation and inflammation of the cornea. Pain relief can be taken, and most over the counter remedies will be sufficient for this.

The treatment regime will also depend on the extent of the injury to the cornea, the size and depth of the ulcer will determine what types of medications and precautionary measures are needed.

Scarring of the cornea from the ulcer is a possible complication of this complaint and scarring can result is reduced vision or visual changes. In the instance of a progressive and untreated infection, it is possible that loss of the eye itself can occur.

Corneal ulcers are fairly common but potentially very serious disorders of the eye. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment is essential to prevent permanent damage to the eye. In many cases, the ulcers can be prevent by wearing protective eye wear, maintaining strict hygiene awareness especially if contact lenses are worn, and by following guidelines given by manufacturers regarding the use of contact lenses.

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