What you need to know about corneal ulcers

24 June 2016
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24 June 2016, Comments: 0

A corneal ulcer involves an erosion or open sore on the corneal surface. The cornea is the transparent region at the front part of the eye that functions as a window where we see. It also refracts light and provides protection to the other eye structures. In case the cornea becomes swollen due to injury or infection, an ulcer can develop. Remember that a corneal ulcer is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment to avoid any lasting problems.

Even though there are medications available for treatment, corneal ulcers can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness.

What are the possible causes?

A corneal ulcer is typically triggered by microorganisms. Even though the eye is properly protected by the eyelid and abundant tears, bacteria and germs might be able to enter the cornea via small-sized abrasions if it is damaged.

The ulcers are common among those who utilize contact lenses, especially if they are used overnight. Essentially, the deeper the corneal ulcer, the more serious the condition becomes. A deep ulcer can lead to scarring on the cornea which blocks light from entering the eye.

Corneal ulcer

In case the cornea becomes swollen due to injury or infection, an ulcer can develop.

What are the common causes?

  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Severe allergic disease
  • Injury
  • Amoebas
  • Inadequate eyelid closure

What are the indications of a corneal ulcer?

The signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer are quite evident, particularly if it is deep. Since the cornea is highly sensitive, the ulcers are capable of producing intense pain. The vision is often impaired and the affected eye might appear red and starts to tear. The individual might have difficulty looking at bright lights.

If the individual has any of the following symptoms, he/she should set an appointment with a doctor right away:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Drainage
  • Tearing
  • Burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • White spot on the cornea
  • Itchiness
  • Sensitivity to light


The treatment for a corneal ulcer must be aggressively done since some cases can result to vision loss and blindness. The treatment typically includes antibiotics as well as antiviral or even antifungal drugs.

The steroidal eye drops might be administered to reduce the soreness. Some doctors might prescribe topical eye drops that are inserted a number of times throughout the day until the ulcer is fully healed.

In severe cases, the individual might require hospitalization so that the right treatment is given. If the infection is persistent or likely to leave behind a scar, a corneal transplant might be required to restore vision. If treatment is not given or delayed, blindness or even total loos of the eye can occur. There are also certain supplements such as vitamin C that can be given to minimize the corneal scarring.

In case the ulcer does not normally with conventional treatment, amniotic membrane is oftentimes placed on the affected cornea for 7-10 days.

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