The cornea is the clear (transparent) tissue at the front of the eye. A corneal ulcer is an erosion or open sore in the outer layer of the cornea. It is often caused by infection.
See also: Corneal injury
Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by an infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi, or a parasite.
Corneal ulcers or infections may also be caused by:
Contact lens wear, especially soft contact lenses worn overnight, may cause a corneal ulcer.
Symptoms of infection or ulcers of the cornea include:
Blood tests to check for inflammatory disorders may also be needed.
Treatment for corneal ulcers and infections depends on the cause. Treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent scarring of the cornea.
If the exact cause is not known, patients may start treatment with antibiotic drops that work against many kinds of bacteria.
Once the exact cause is known, drops that treat bacteria, herpes, other viruses, or a fungus are prescribed.
Corticosteroid eye drops may be used to reduce swelling and inflammation in certain conditions.
Your doctor may also recommend that you:
Severe ulcers may need to be treated with corneal transplantation.
Many people recover completely from corneal ulcers or infections, or they have only a minor change in vision.
However, a corneal ulcer or infection can cause long-term damage to the cornea and lead to a noticeable worsening of vision.
Untreated corneal ulcers and infections may lead to:
Call your health care provider if:
Prompt, early attention by an ophthalmologist for an eye infection may prevent ulcers from forming. Wash hands and pay very close attention to cleanliness while handling contact lenses. Avoid wearing contact lenses overnight.
Bacterial keratitis; Fungal keratitis; Acanthamoeba keratitis; Herpes simplex keratitis