General corneal disease

The cornea is like a kind of window in the anterior part of the eye which receives light and enables clear vision. There are different diseases that can affect the cornea and cause blurriness, visual impairment and in extreme cases, also blindness. These include keratoconus, keratitis, corneal ulcer and corneal scarring (macula).

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a degenerative corneal disease that causes the cornea to gradually become thinner and more convex, causing irregular astigmatism or a special form of astigmatism with a very irregular corneal curvature. The first problem patients notice is typically worsened vision that cannot be corrected by wearing eyeglasses. In approximately 10 percent of cases, the disease is hereditary and also afflicts some other family members. In 90 percent of patients, it strikes both eyes.

Keratoconus usually starts to develop in teenage years, but the rate of disease progression varies considerably. It is sometimes difficult to recognize in its early stages. One of the most reliable examinations for this type of disease detection is corneal topography and pachymetry. In the early stages of keratoconus, most patients can see clearly with eyeglasses. As the disease progresses, patients need hard or semi-hard contact lenses. In this stage, most patients are recommended to undergo operative treatment called corneal crosslinking.

Keratitis

Keratitis is an inflammatory disease of the cornea that can occur for very different reasons. Among the most common are bacterial infections, viral infections, corneal injuries and various types of systemic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases. Patients usually feel pain in the eyes, are bothered by light and experience worsening vision. It is very important to begin with adequate treatment as soon as possible, with correct treatment depending on the cause of the keratitis. This also applies to prognosis.

Corneal ulcer

A corneal ulcer is a corrosion that is characteristically indicated by a red, painful eye. Vision worsens and discharge from the eyes may also be present. This is a limited corneal infection that is most commonly the consequence of bacterial infections associated with a previous corneal injury on the same spot. It very frequently occurs in injuries of the corneal surface that occur due to the chronic wearing of contact lenses. The infection can also be fungal, in which case it is most commonly caused by acanthamoeba. These types of infections are more frequently found in swimmers who wear contact lenses. If a virus causes the disease, it is most frequently caused by herpes.

Corneal scarring (macula)

Scarring in the cornea can occur as a consequence of different types of corneal injuries, such as abrasions, burns and inflammations. The degree of visual impairment also depends on the degree of scarring and the extension of changes. Visual impairment may vary from slight to complete blindness. If the corneal scarring is so extensive that vision is severely impaired, the only effective therapy is corneal transplantation, or keratoplasty. Such operative treatments, which require the replacement of the afflicted cornea with the cornea of a deceased donor are very successful, since the rate of rejection is minimal due to there being a lack of blood supply in the cornea when correct medication is used.

Related articles

  • Keratoconus

    Keratoconus is a degenerative non-inflammatory disease of the cornea that causes the cornea to become thinner and more convex with disease progression. That first signs that should alert you to the possibility of keratoconus are worsening visual acuity and rapid changes in your dioptre. Keratoconus is successfully treated with a procedure called "corneal crosslinking", during which the cornea is soaked with special vitamin B2 drops and exposed to UV light – triggering a chemical reaction that increases its rigidity.

  • Dry eye

    The main reason for dry eye is a reduced production of tears by the lacrimal glands. An incorrect proportion of discharge in the tear film can also contribute to the feeling of dry eyes.

  • Problems with wearing contact lenses

    Although contact lenses are used by millions of people every day, they can be the cause of permanent eye damage if they are inadequately maintained and as a result of poor hygiene and/or skipping regular ophthalmologist check-ups.

 
 

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