Corneal ulceration

What is Corneal Ulceration?

Corneal Ulceration is an open sore on the clear covering of the front of the eye, the cornea. It happens when the surface of the cornea is breached, typically by an infection or serious injury.

It is the most serious form of corneal inflammation and can lead to a serious condition known as corneal melting, where the cornea breaks down. If left untreated, corneal ulcer lengths may reach the inner layers of the cornea and can cause serious vision loss.

Causes of Corneal Ulceration

The most common cause of corneal ulceration is bacterial infection, usually from Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, or Streptococcus pneumoniae. Fungal infections, such as Aspergillus keratitis, may also cause corneal ulcers.

Other causes may include trauma, such as chemical or thermal burns, contact lens over-wear, severe dry eye, or severe eye allergies.

Symptoms of Corneal Ulceration

The most common symptom of corneal ulceration is severe eye pain. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Tearing or discharge from the eye
  • Heavy eyelids or squinting
  • Small spots on the cornea

Diagnosis & Treatment of Corneal Ulceration

Corneal ulceration is diagnosed with a slit lamp examination. An ophthalmologist should be seen immediately to assess the extent of the injury. Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the ulcer.

Bacterial ulcers are typically treated with topical antibiotics administered three to four times a day. For fungal ulcers, antifungal medications may be prescribed. In some cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary.

Vision may improve with treatment, but may not return to normal. Further damage may occur if prompt medical treatment is not sought.