The cornea is a transparent organ of the eye which allows entrance of light into the eye and is also in charge of refraction of the light. This part of the eye can be damaged by injuries, infections and and affected by several more conditions.
Depending on the affected layers of the cornea, damage can be reversible or irreversible causing severe vision problems. If the cornea is completely destroyed, the only way to restore vision is to undergo corneal transplant. Fortunately, there are different treatment available, all of which tend to health the cornea once it gets damaged by various conditions.
Characteristics of Corneal Damage
The majority of patients suffering from different disorders or injuries affecting the cornea usually complain about pain in the affected eye, discomfort, blurred vision and excessive tearing. The eyelids and the inner surface of the eye may also be red and swollen, there is increased light sensitivity (photophobia) and sometimes visible scars on the cornea.
Medical Conditions Affecting the Cornea
Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea caused by different infectious agents including viruses, bacteria or fungi. Depending on the severity of the infection, infectious agents affect only superficial layers of the organ or penetrate deeper causing scarring and loss of vision.
- Ocular Herpes
Ocular herpes is viral infection affecting the cornea. It is caused by Herpes simplex virus, the same type blamed for fever blisters and cold sores. The infection can be also caused by other type of Herpes simplex virus, the one responsible for genital herpes. All in all, there is no cure for ocular herpes, the infection is recurrent leading to scarring and damage.
- Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus (Shingles)
This is also viral infection caused by reactivation of chicken pox virus many years after the infection took place. This type of herpes zoster may affect different structures of the eye/ If cornea is affected, there is usually formation of corneal ulcers and accompanying scarring.
- Corneal Dystrophies
This group of illnesses affect the structure of the cornea . The most commonly reported corneal dystrophies are keratoconus and map-dot- fingerprint dystrophy.
Keratoconus is characterized by progressive change in shape of the cornea. The organ becomes distorted and its normal curvature becomes more prominent. As a result patients experience progressive nearsightedness and also develop astigmatism.
Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy is a condition that develops as a result of abnormal appearance of the basement membrane of the cornea. The abnormal growth of this membrane is blamed for specific changes in the appearance of the cornea. Namely, the organ starts to resemble a map, and it appears as if it is covered with dots and small fingerprints.