What is Corneal Disease?

The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer and the first part of the optical system. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Although the cornea is clear, it is actually a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye. The cornea must remain transparent to refract light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can interfere with this process. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.

The term “Corneal Disease” refers to a variety of conditions that affect mainly the cornea. When damage or disease affects the cornea, light does not enter the eye as it should, and vision becomes impaired. The cornea also acts as a barrier for the rest of the eye, protecting it from germs, bacteria and foreign matter.

What causes Corneal Disease?

Eye infections, degenerations, and many other disorders of the cornea that arise due to heredity can all cause of corneal disease. Common corneal diseases and disorders can be caused by allergies, pink eye (conjunctivitis), corneal infections, and dry eye. Inherited ophthalmic disorders where the cornea becomes thick and cloudy, called Corneal Dystrophies are also classified as Corneal Disease.  Fuch’s Disease is one example.

Symptoms of Corneal Disease

Common symptoms of Corneal Disease include:

  • Eye Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Scratchiness

How is Corneal Disease treated?

If you experience any of these symptoms around your cornea, you should be seen by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Depending on the cause, if left untreated, it can result in permanent damage to the cornea. Some symptoms can also indicate a more serious problem or require special treatment to prolong the life of the cornea.

To learn more: Facts about the Cornea from the National Eye Institute