What You Should Know About Corneal Disease
The cornea, the eye’s transparent cover, refracts light, which enables the eye to see clearly. A healthy cornea is vital to good eyesight, so damage to the cornea can cause pain, sensitivity to light, blurriness, inflammation, headaches, and vision loss.
Conditions and diseases harmful to the cornea include:
- Injuries and trauma
- Keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea resulting from an injury, bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. (One form, neurotrophic keratitis, is a rare degenerative disease characterized by corneal numbness, thinning, ulceration, and perforation.)
- Dry eye, resulting from the eyes not producing enough tears or tears of subpar quality
- Shingles, herpes, and other viruses
- Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome, causing corneal swelling, glaucoma, and changes in the iris
- Pterygium, a growth of tissue on the cornea
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (erythema multiforme major), a serious skin disorder that also causes conjunctivitis, corneal blisters and erosions, holes in the cornea, and painful blisters on the eyelids
- Corneal dystrophies (such as keratoconus, lattice corneal dystrophy, map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy, and Fuchs’ dystrophy), which cause parts of the cornea to become cloudy starting in childhood
- Allergies and minor scratches
Lowering Risks to the Cornea
According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute, you can lower the risk of corneal injuries by wearing protective eyewear while playing sports, doing yard work, working on home repairs, using machines, and handling chemicals. You can prevent keratitis and other corneal infections by properly cleaning, disinfecting, and storing your contact lenses.
Diagnosing Corneal Damage When It Does Occur
If you suspect you have sustained corneal damage of any kind, contact Dr. Moshe Mendelson, Dr. Jackson Lau, and Dr. Grace Tseng to examine for corneal abrasions and corneal diseases. This is important because many eye diseases have no early symptoms or warning signs. Indeed, getting a dilated eye exam is important even if your eyes seem healthy.
Treating Corneal Diseases
Treatment options depend on the medical condition. They include:
In our office, keratoconus is one of the most common corneal conditions that we encounter. It’s now believed to be found in 1 in 250 people compared to old estimates of 1 in 2000 or 3000 people. At a consultation for specialty contact lenses, we will use corneal topography to capture an image of the front surface of the eye. The data allows us to determine the shape, the size, and the curvature of the cornea and if your disease is stable or progressing.
If we determine that your case of keratoconus is progressing, we will recommend a treatment called corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL). CXL is the only approved treatment to stop or stabilize the cornea from progressing. After the procedure, we will then determine the best visual solution through specialized contact lenses such as large-diameter scleral contact lenses, hybrid lenses – a fusion of hard and soft lenses, certain custom soft lenses that are used for mild cases of keratoconus, or rigid gas permeable lenses that were used for many years in the past.
At Silicon Valley Eye Physicians, Dr. Moshe Mendelson, Dr. Jackson Lau, and Dr. Grace Tseng diagnose corneal conditions and prescribe scleral lenses and other treatments for patients in Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California.