Your cornea is the transparent outer layer at the front of your eye. It helps to focus light entering the eye, so you can see clearly. Due to its prominent location in the eye, injuries to the cornea are common.
Eye doctors, like the optometrists at South Florida Vision, will check your cornea for signs of injury, infection, or disease as a part of your routine eye exam with us.
Common Problems Affecting the Cornea
The main corneal conditions we see and treat at South Florida Vision include:
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the transparent tissue covering the white of your eye, which is why that area looks pink or red when you have pink eye. Meanwhile, your cornea is the transparent tissue covering the pupil and iris (colored part of your eye).
Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. It can also occur as part of an allergic response. Allergic conjunctivitis can lead to inflammation of the cornea.
Medications are typically used to treat conjunctivitis, depending on its cause. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed for a bacterial infection and antihistamines recommended for allergic conjunctivitis. Steroid medication is sometimes used when the swelling is severe.
The surface of your cornea can be scratched by any hard or sharp object it comes into contact with, such as airborne dust, dirt, or sand. It can be cut by the edge of a piece of paper, a fingernail, or a contact lens. While these type of injuries typically heal on their own, a scratched cornea can be quite painful. If the injury is deep, it can lead to scarring and vision impairment.
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, your eyes do not produce enough tears to adequately lubricate themselves. Left untreated, dry eyes can become irritated and inflamed, and are particularly susceptible to corneal abrasions.
Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea, which typically irritates the eye and turns the white of it pink or red. For this reason, it is sometimes confused with conjunctivitis. However, keratitis is typically more painful than conjunctivitis.
Keratitis usually develops as the result of infections related to the use of contact lenses.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause inflammation of the cornea, which can cause blurry vision and other visual impairments. It is considered a type of keratitis called photokeratitis that typically only lasts a few hours or days. However, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Long-term exposure to UV rays may contribute to more serious eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Wearing sunglasses or other protective eyewear when outdoors can protect against this type of corneal injury. It’s important to note this doesn’t just involve looking into the sun – your eyes are subject to harmful UV rays reflecting off snow, ice, water, and other surfaces, as well.
Cornea Specialist in Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach & St. Lucie
Do you think your cornea may be damaged? Visit a South Florida Vision optometry location near you for an exam to find out for sure. You can also request an appointment now. Our optometry team has the training and experience to diagnose and treat a wide range of corneal conditions.