Don’t Let a Corneal Disease Hold You Back.
The cornea protects your inner eye against dirt, germs and ultraviolet light. When light enters your eye, it’s bent by the cornea and helps you focus. When the cornea is affected by disease, infection or injury, things just might not look right.
When you’re experiencing cornea problems, you might notice pain, blurred vision, tearing, redness or an extreme sensitivity to light. Often, the cornea can heal itself after a minor infection. But sometimes, advanced issues like keratoconus, Fuchs endothelial dystrophy and dry eye syndrome require additional consultation and treatment plans.
The development of corneal disease is not always in your control.
There are many reasons why a patient can develop corneal disease. Conditions like dry eye, keratoconus, and glaucoma can cause damage to the cornea, but so can other conditions like bacterial infections, fungal infections, viral keratitis, dystrophies, degenerative corneal disorders, and trauma to the eye.
And many patients develop corneal disease due to autoimmune disorders like Wegener’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, vitamin A deficiency, benign or malignant cancerous growths or Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Patients who are showing signs of corneal disease often experience redness and cloudy vision, but other symptoms include:
The cornea is the window at the front of the eye that refracts light and helps the retina function properly. When your cornea is healthy, you see better. When the cornea is damaged or irregular, it can’t cannot focus on light correctly and can cause a patient to experience blurred vision and often see a glare.
Sometimes vision becomes blurry and distorted due to a degenerative disease called Keratoconus, an eye disease where the cornea changes shape, becomes thin and creates a cone-like bulge that affects vision. Often the patient can’t read as well or has trouble driving a car due to distorted sight. Working through a management program between your referring doctor and our cornea specialists is key, and trying not to rub your eyes and cause additional aggravation is important. Additional precautionary measures include specialized contact lenses or corneal cross-linking.
Fuchs' dystrophy is a disease that causes swelling to the cornea leading to a glare, cloudy vision, pain, light sensitivity, light halos, difficulty seeing at night and general discomfort to the eye. Medication can help, but when untreated it can lead to lost vision and a need for a corneal transplant.
A corneal abrasion is one of the most common injuries to the eye and can happen at any time. While they usually heal on their own, they can sometimes cause excessive tearing, redness, blurred vision and light sensitivity and require a patch or bandage contact lens to aid in healing
Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy is an eye condition that occurs when the corneal membrane develops abnormally and folds in the tissues. Symptoms include blurry vision and pain, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, and a feeling that something is in the eye.
While corneal disease can be monitored and managed through routine eye exams, there are ways to prevent or minimize the risks. Practicing good hygiene and participating in available vaccines to minimize the risk of shingles (herpes zoster) often reduce risk, as well as maintaining a diet rich in omega-3s and wearing protective eye wear.
Corneal diseases are typically diagnosed during routine eye exams, where the doctor examines the patient’s eye, eyelids and cornea using a slit lamp microscope. Often additional testing is done to determine the shape of the cornea (a topography), the thickness of the cornea (a pachymetry) as well as cultures, biopsies, blood tests and cultures.
Corneal disease can be treated in a variety of different ways.
Sometimes, the only option for better vision is corneal transplant surgery, especially when there’s irreversible swelling from Fuchs’ Dystrophy or after complicated cataract surgery. Options like DMEK (Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty) and DSEK (Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty) replace the back layers of the cornea and restore vision.
We often treat Fuch’s Dystrophy and reduce corneal swelling through DSEK, a corneal transplant that rids the eye of the nonfunctioning tissue and restores vision.
Cornea collagen cross-linking (CXL) stops the progression of keratoconus or Post-Lasik ectasia, an eye disease that weakens and thins the cornea, eventually causing severe vision impairment. Our expert team uses AVEDRO technology to reshape the cornea during cross-linking surgery.
Intacs Surgery can reduce nearsightedness and astigmatism especially in patients with keratoconus, by flattening the cornea and inserting implants that refocus light rays as they enter the eye and improve vision.
Amniotic tissue is used as a new option for some conditions, using stem cell technology to provide patients with an anti-inflammatory approach. This procedure is done in an office setting and offers a faster recovery.
Sometimes we recommend a special scleral contact lens for patients with an irregular cornea, keratoconus or severe dry eyes. These lenses are larger in diameter and gas permeable and cover the entire cornea surface.
Corneal Associates of New Jersey
Kremer Eye Center
Omni Eye Services
Phillips Eye Specialists