The cornea is one of the most delicate parts of the body and can easily become irritated or scratched. It is quite painful when this happens and can impair vision in the short run, although most minor problems are self-healing.
The most frequent problem with the cornea is irritation caused by contact with small particles, such as dust, sand or eyelashes. In many ways, this is the purpose of the cornea, which is a series of thin layers connected by two thin membranes at the front of the eyeball. The cornea prevents debris from getting into contact with the more vulnerable parts of the eye and keeps the particles in a place where they can easily be removed by tears and blinking. Minor eye irritations can usually be treated by gently bathing the affected eye in water.
However, some foreign bodies may cause more severe problems. When using power tools without proper eye protection, small chips of stone, wood or metal may scratch or even puncture the cornea. Exposure to corrosive chemicals can also cause damage, as can prolonged exposure to UV light. In these cases, it is best to consult an eye specialist immediately to assess the extent of the damage. The good news is that most scratches to the cornea will heal in a short time. That said, it is important to be examined by a doctor and ensure that the foreign body is properly removed, in case this leads to infection and further damage.
The cornea can also suffer as a result of hayfever, leading to redness and itchiness of the eye and occasional blurred vision. Usually, this is resolved with a simple antihistamine, although it is worth consulting a medical professional for allergy tests to identify the precise cause of the reaction.
Keratitis is a common inflammation of the cornea that can be caused by a bacteria, virus or fungus. It often occurs after an eye injury or simply by wearing contact lenses for too long. Those experiencing keratitis may notice redness, pain, blurred vision and discharge from the eye. This condition can usually be treated with antibiotic eyedrops.
Those who have had chickenpox during their lives may be susceptible to shingles later in life. Shingles can strike at any time and attack sensitive parts of the body, including the cornea. Symptoms include small sores on the cornea, which can be treated with medicated eyedrops. Normally, this condition only affects older patients or those with auto-immune system deficiencies.
The cornea can also degenerate with age due to dystrophies, such as keratoconus dystrophy, Fuch’s dystrophy, lattice dystrophy, and map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy. In such cases, surgery may be an option to restore the functionality of the cornea. Non-intrusive laser surgery is available for certain types of dystrophy, while more advanced cases may require a full cornea transplant, either from donor tissue or from an artificial cornea called a keratoprosthesis. No matter what has happened to the cornea, there are almost always options that can help to restore sight and general quality of life.
This article is offered by Moorfields retina specialist in Dubai