The cornea is the clear structure in front of the eye, and a corneal ulcer can be defined as an open sore with underlying inflammation of the cornea.
Causes Of Corneal Ulcer
Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by bacterial infections. People wearing contact lenses have a higher chance of developing the disease, as they are likely to suffer from bacterial infections. Fungal infections are another causal factor for corneal ulcers. Improper use of contact lenses and excessive eye drop usage are some of the reasons for fungal infections.
Cuts, scratches and abrasions to the corneal surface can lead to infection, thereby causing corneal ulcers. When foreign particles of metal, wood or glass strike the cornea and cause trauma, it makes it easier for bacteria to invade and cause a corneal ulcer.
Disorders like dry eyes can deprive the eye of the germ-fighting protection of the tear film and cause corneal ulcers. Other disorders affecting the eyelid prevent the eye from closing completely. This can leave the cornea dried out, thereby making it more vulnerable to ulcers.
When the cornea comes in contact with harsh chemicals or solutions there are chances of corneal damage and this can further lead to corneal ulceration.
Contact lenses are a major cause of developing the condition. Bacteria can readily infect the cornea when contact lenses are not maintained. Scratches on the contact lens can scrape the cornea’s surface and make it prone to bacterial infections. Similarly, tiny particles of dirt trapped underneath the contact lens can scrape the cornea, leading to ulceration.
Patients suffering from immunological disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and others) have chances of contracting corneal ulcers as a complication of their disease.
Treatment For Corneal Ulcers
Make sure to approach an eye hospital to promptly treat the corneal ulcer before the disease worsens.
Since there are different causes for corneal ulcers the eye doctor has to firstly identify the cause and then eradicate it. If the ulcer is caused as a result of infection, we will proceed with anti-infective agents directed to eradicate the microbial agent. These anti-infective agents will be in the form of eye drops and ointments.
In some cases the eye specialist will prescribe oral medications to combat the corneal ulcer. We may also prescribe corticosteroid eye drops, but this will only be done after careful examination under a slit lamp.
If the corneal ulcer is caused due to dry eyes, doctors will employ the use of tear substitutes followed by patching or a bandage contact lens.
If the corneal ulcers are caused due to the entry of foreign particles a slit lamp microscope can be used to remove particles. This is followed by the application of medicines to prevent infection and scarring of the cornea.
When the corneal ulcer is caused due to an underlying condition such as immunological diseases, patients will have to treat the underlying condition first. Doctors will opt for patient-specific treatment and prescribe immunosuppressive drugs to relieve complications.
Surgical treatments like corneal transplants may be required if the ulcer cannot be controlled with medications. In some severe cases, corneal ulcers cause significant corneal thinning and threaten to perforate the cornea, in such cases, the ophthalmologist will proceed with a corneal transplant (keratoplasty)
Corneal ulcers cause inflammation, sore eyes, blurred vision and other distressing symptoms. Go to an eye clinic if you suspect to be suffering from a corneal ulcer. Treatment will help to ameliorate the symptoms and prevent further deterioration of the cornea.