3 Ways Your Cornea Can Be Damaged

by Nov 11, 2020Eye Conditions

The clear part of the eye in front of the colored part (the iris) is called the cornea. It is an amazing tissue, given the fact that it is one of the most highly sensitive and quickest healing parts of the body while simultaneously having to be free of blood vessels and of a very specific curvature in order to facilitate clear vision.

However, because it is at the front exterior of the eye and in contact with the outside world, much can happen to it to damage it, often causing both extreme pain and sometimes even vision loss. Read on to learn about some conditions that can affect the cornea and what can be done about them.

Dryness and Autoimmune Disease

The cornea has an external layer of cells called the epithelium. In any case of insult to the cornea, this is the first layer of cells to be damaged and often the first to heal afterwards. Whenever there is sufficient dryness in the eyes, these epithelial cells can be sloughed off and show damage when examined by our optometrist.

This can cause irritation or pain, lead to further issues like secondary infection, and affect vision if these lesions are located in the center of the cornea over the pupil. Too much ultraviolet radiation, from being outside on a bright day for too long without sunglasses, or toxicity from chemicals like contact lens cleaners can also contribute to this type of damage.

There are also autoimmune causes for corneal epithelial erosions and other corneal conditions. In addition to dryness, allergic reactions in the eyes can also cause these defects.

Immune cells in the cornea can react to normal bacteria living in the eyelashes or on contact lenses. This can cause white opacities within the cornea made of immune cells that cause pain, light sensitivity, and the feeling of something in the eye and can lead to full blown infections.

Injury and Abrasion

The cornea is tough and can shield the interior of the eye from the outside world, but it is still susceptible to injury. As stated above, the epithelium can be torn off through many types of external injury like getting poked in the eye.

Even though it can heal quickly, it may take several months for the tissue to regain the same level of durability it had before, and our eye doctor may have to use medications or long term contact lens wear to help this healing process along.

Foreign bodies, especially in labor, industrial, or trade occupations, often find their way into the cornea in the form of metal chunks.

They usually get lodged in the cornea and require an eye doctor using a microscope to safely remove them. Often, a layer of rust will form around them and our optometrist will have to use a small drill to remove this irritated tissue so that the eye can heal quickly and properly.

Plant matter and dust can also get lodged in the cornea in this way. Sometimes, people can get foreign bodies lodged underneath their upper eyelid, which repeatedly scrape the cornea each time they blink. Our eye doctor in this case will have to flip the upper eyelid over and clean the underlying portion of it to get the foreign body out and allow the eye to recover.

Infectious Keratitis

One condition that our optometrists are always trying to prevent at all costs is infectious keratitis, or a direct infection of the cornea by some microscopic pathogen. This can be in the form of bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other types of microbes.
These are important to prevent or to efficiently diagnose and treat as they can cause rapid damage to the cornea and thus irreversible vision loss (except through corneal transplant), even if the infection is eventually brought under control.

Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for corneal damage such as infections, ulcer, abrasions and injuries. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.

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