The cornea is your eye’s front window. It covers the iris, pupil, and lens of your eye and helps maintain clear vision. That’s why it’s important to know the symptoms of a corneal condition, whether you have one or not; and what treatments can be taken to alleviate its effects.
1. Epithelium: The epithelium is the middle 1/3 of the cornea, consisting of three layers. The deepest layer, the basal cell layer, regenerates itself about every 10 days. These cells are responsible for maintaining the transparency of the cornea and keeping it hydrated.
2. Stroma: The cells in this layer are responsible for thickening and stiffening the cornea and keep it transparent by trapping light behind the cornea and reflecting it back to your retina where it is focused onto your brain.
3. Descemet's membrane: This nearly see-through membrane covers the stroma and helps to protect your eye from penetration by pathogens or foreign bodies.
Types of cornea:
There are three basic types of cornea:
1. Normal: The most common type, this cornea has a smooth, regular surface.
2. Asymmetrical or Myopic: This is an irregular cornea characterized by uneven bulging around the center of the cornea called as "Pseudophakia". This condition can be hereditary or caused by trauma or inflammation to the eye.
3. Keratoconic: A rare condition which creates a cone-like protrusion on top of the cornea, making it steeper and more irregularly shaped than normal.
10 Signs And Symptoms Of Corneal Disorders:
1. Bleeding: Usually, the cause of a corneal disorder is not obvious, so a lot of times it may be assumed that one’s vision is blurry or less clear because they are experiencing vision loss. However, this might be caused by a corneal disorder and thus the eyes should be checked as soon as possible by an eye doctor.
2. Flashing lights/blinking lights - Corneal disorders can cause flashing lights when your eyes move quickly for a short moment like you blinking them too fast or looking at a bright light for too long (for example in traffic)
3. Cloudy eyes - The conditions of the cornea range from minor to severe and can include cloudiness. This is because when an opaqueness or transparency of the cornea occurs, light reflection is affected. The result is that you can’t see clearly, especially at night or in low lighting conditions.
4. Corneal ulcers - The corneas are susceptible to damage because the surfaces are very delicate and easily damaged by the environment and changes in temperature and pressure. A corneal disorder could lead to a corneal ulcer, which is a wound on the surface of your eye where tissue dies or becomes inflamed.
5. Corneal scars - A corneal disorder could interfere with the normal healing process of the cornea and cause it to scar. This can lead to a scarred cornea, which is characterized by opaque spots on your cornea that don’t allow light to pass through properly and cause you to see poorly.
6. Conjunctivitis - This is one of the more common symptoms of a corneal disorder and is due to an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the clear tissue that covers your eyelids and lines your eye). It can be caused by a bacterial infection or an allergic reaction to something specific (like pollen), as well as some medications, surgery, or even contact lenses.
7. Dislocated lens - This is when a lens is pushed out of place during eye surgery. If you experience pain during sleep, your vision may be blurred and blurry, especially at night. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, you may also feel like your eyes aren’t focusing properly or they feel scratchy, dry or red.
8. Irritation - Irritation on the cornea usually results from exposure to wind and/or dust because it expels all sorts of irritants into your eye which causes problems for it to be able to protect itself adequately from them.
9. Sudden changes - A sudden change in your vision can be caused by a corneal disorder, so you should contact an eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice that something is amiss.
10. Tearing - Cornea disorders are made worse by eye dryness or the presence of wind and dust, but they are also aggravated by changes in temperature and pressure and by extended use of contact lenses. These conditions can cause a tearing sensation which is usually only temporary but can last for weeks or months due to the way corneas have to heal themselves.
Causes Of Corneal Disorders:
There are many causes of corneal disorders, including the following:
1. Injuries to the eye - A foreign object can get into the eye and damage it, as well as injuries such as a chemical irritant or physical trauma.
2. Infections - Bacterial or viral infections can affect your eyes and lead to a corneal disorder.
3. Injury due to contact lenses - Wearing contact lenses (whether they’re disposable or reusable) can result in your eyes becoming inflamed because they don’t allow oxygen to reach your eyes properly, especially if you wear them for extended periods of time. This condition can lead to a corneal disorder for example, after wearing your contact lenses for 15 hours you may suddenly feel that your eyes are irritated and in pain.
4. Exposure to toxic chemicals - Certain chemicals can get into the eye and cause damage if they aren’t removed from the eye properly. The symptoms will usually appear within minutes, sometimes hours or even days after being exposed to some toxic chemical in your environment.
Diagnosis Of Corneal Disorders:
1. History - A history of any previous corneal disorders is required in order for the doctor to be able to make an accurate diagnosis based on personal experience and recent events that have taken place.
2. Vision examination - A vision examination, usually conducted through an ophthalmologist or optometrist, is done to determine the presence of a corneal disorder.
3. Eye exam - An eye exam is usually done on your eyes to check for any signs of pain or redness or if there are any scratches on the surface of your cornea, as well as checking the pressure inside of your eyes.
4. Examination with an ophthalmoscope - An ophthalmoscope will be used to examine the interior structures of the eye and test for abnormalities that may be due to a corneal disorder.
5. Punctate keratitis - Punctate keratitis is the name for a corneal disorder that develops after an eye injury or another corneal disorder. The symptoms of punctate keratitis include redness, pain, swelling and irritation of the eye. If you have punctate keratitis, your eyes might feel dry in your mouth and this could be a sign that you have corneal disorder symptoms due to dryness, inflammation and irritation.
Treatments For Cornea Disorders:
1. You must avoid an allergic reaction due to contact lenses - This is very important because it can cause a sudden increase in your symptoms and can cause a permanent damage to the cornea (which will be permanent) if you have a severe reaction. If you feel that your symptoms begin to worsen from contact lenses, it’s recommended that you remove them immediately.
2. Steroid medications - If the cornea is ulcerated, then one type of steroid medication known as Fucithalmic may be recommended for certain patients for healing purposes.
3. Amniotic membrane transplantation - This is a kind of corneal transplant that is performed in which the amniotic membrane (a fluid-filled sac that encircles your fetus during pregnancy) is removed and replaced into the eye, usually after an infection has developed.
4. Laser therapy - In some cases, laser therapy may be recommended to help heal your damaged cornea by producing heat which causes the tissue to heal faster and more effectively.
5. Surgery - In some cases, surgery may be recommended in order for the cornea to heal properly. Technically, there are three different ways that eye surgeons can perform surgery to help heal the damaged cornea.
6. Medications - There are certain medications that can increase healing times and that can have beneficial effects on the eye's health. Just make sure that you consult an eye doctor or perhaps a dermatologist before using medication because some medications are associated with side effects or other unwanted conditions that could occur due to their use.
7. Rest - Resting your eyes for a period of time can help decrease the chances of them becoming damaged or being infected. Be sure that you don’t strain your eyes too much throughout the day and try to avoid staying up late at night in front of a computer or television because the eyelids do not move properly behind glasses and snow blindness symptoms can develop which result in temporary vision loss.
8. Improve your diet - Eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help you to avoid or heal from a corneal disorder, but be sure to consult an eye doctor or nutritionist to find out which foods you should consume.
9. Maintaining healthy eyes - Avoiding a corneal disorder can be as easy as avoiding certain physical activities (such as playing sports) that cause your eyes to become dry, inflamed and painful.
10. Proper hygiene of your contact lenses - It is recommended that you clean contact lenses with sterilized water at least once a day, but be sure to consult an eye doctor for specific cleaning instructions.
11. Use saline drops - Saline drops help to remove any dust particles or foreign objects from your eyes that could have caused a corneal disorder.
12. Wear protective eyewear - If you know that there are certain objects in the environment around you which could potentially damage your eyes, then it is recommended that you wear protective eyewear to avoid getting injured or damaging your eyes in any way.
1. Conservative treatment is usually the first course of action in corneal disorders.
2. If conservative treatment fails, then more aggressive treatment and surgery usually ensues.
4. Diagnosis of corneal disorders may include an eye exam and other tests to determine the cause of your condition.
5. Treatment for cornea disorders may include surgery and medications, but if you have allergies or dry eyes you should consult your eye doctor before taking any medications.
6. Resting your eyes is important to maintaining healthy eyes, especially if you are experiencing pain, dryness or irritation while wearing contact lenses or if a corneal disorder has occurred due to contact lenses.
7. A healthy diet can help to prevent, decrease the symptoms and help you to recover from a corneal disorder, but be sure to consult an eye doctor or nutritionist before making any changes to your diet.
8. While it is recommended that you avoid physical activities that could put strain on your eyes, it is also important that you continue with life normally and not let your eyes prevent you from doing things that most people do on a daily basis.
9. Be sure that if you are experiencing any pain in your eyes or cornea (such as a stinging sensation), then you should consult with an eye doctor immediately because there are certain conditions which can rapidly worsen and can cause permanent damage before seeking professional treatment.
10. Most cornea disorders can be cured or treated, but if you have a corneal disorder symptoms then it is recommended that you seek professional help as soon as possible. You should not take the risk of having permanent damage to your eyes or cornea just because you didn’t want to seek professional help or advice from an eye doctor.