The cornea is a refractive organ of the eye, located at the very front of the organ, covering the iris, pupil and the anterior chamber. It is together with the lens of major importance for the refraction of light. This eye organ is transparent due to absence of blood vessels. It is, on the other hand, well innervated and the presence of many nerve endings makes the cornea very sensitive.
Corneal edema is a condition characterized by swelling of the cornea due to some kind of inflammatory process. It develops as a consequence of many infections, other ocular diseases and may be a complication of certain eye surgeries. Also, corneal edema develops as a result of irritation associated with prolonged use of contact lenses.
Causes and Symptoms of Corneal Edema
There is a variety of underlying causes of corneal edema. For instance, it may develop due to different infections, predominantly of viral origin.
Furthermore, even dehydration may cause swelling of this eye organ. Corneal edema also affects people who have had a traumatic injury or have recently undergone ocular surgery. Increased ocular pressure, endothelial disorders, exposure to irritants and toxins are several more causes of corneal edema.
As for symptoms and signs of inflammation, patients with corneal edema commonly complain about distorted and/or blurred vision, their eyes are rather sensitive to light (photophobia) and are also sensitive to any contact with foreign particles. Initially, there is slight discomfort which easily intensifies and progresses into severe pain.
Diagnosing Corneal Edema
It is essential to consult a well-experienced ophthalmologist in case any of the mentioned problems occur. He/she will perform a general eye examination as well as more specific tests and exams such as specular microscopy, ultrasound or optical pachymetry. Only after diagnosing corneal edema and identifying the underlying cause of inflammation patients can be prescribed the most suitable treatment.
Treatment for Corneal Edema
Treatment for this condition depends on the cause of inflammation. So for instance, individuals who have developed corneal edema due to ill-fitting contact lenses are supposed to change these. Individuals who have worn contact lenses for a long period of time are due to rest their eyes and let them regenerate paying attention not to repeat the same mistake again. Corneal edema that has developed as a side effect of surgery is easily brought under control with certain prescribed eye drops. Infections are treated with antibiotics eye drops/ointments (if caused by bacteria) or antiviral eye drops/ointments (if caused by viruses).
All the symptoms and signs of inflammation withdraw soon after the treatment is initiated and there is generally no permanent damage to the organ.