The human eye is an amazingly complex structure with several delicate parts, including the cornea—the outer layer that protects the eye from germs, dirt, and other debris. The cornea also plays a key role in vision clarity by refracting light and filtering out some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Unfortunately, the cornea’s position at the surface of the eye leaves it vulnerable to a wide range of health issues, also known as corneal conditions or cornea disease.
Types of Corneal Conditions
Several problems can affect the cornea, including:
Minor injuries to the cornea like small scratches usually heal on their own. However, deeper abrasions may lead to vision changes or corneal scarring that requires treatment.
As its name suggests, dry eye occurs when the eye is unable to keep its surface lubricated. This can result in burning, stinging, itchiness, redness, pain, and even eye surface infections.
Pollen allergies are known to affect the eyes, especially in warmer months. Signs of allergy-related cornea problems include redness, itching, stinging, burning, and excess tearing.
Keratitis refers to cornea inflammation that may be caused by improper contact lens use, a minor eye injury, use of infected eye medication, or a foreign body in the eye.
Corneal dystrophies cause a buildup of material on the cornea that can cloud vision. There are several types of corneal dystrophies, and many of them are hereditary.
Cornea Disease Symptoms
It’s important to speak with an ophthalmologist—an eye specialist who can provide medical treatment—if you notice possible signs or symptoms of cornea disease. These may involve:
- Eye pain
- Eye redness
- Eye discharge
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Excess tearing
- Corneal scarring
Cornea Disease Risk Factors
Some cornea diseases are genetic conditions that are inherited from a parent. In other cases, cornea problems result from accidents or acquired diseases.
The following activities can increase a person’s risk of experiencing a corneal injury:
- Playing sports that involve a small ball or puck, such as tennis or hockey
- Operating machines such as lawn mowers, weedwhackers, sanders or drills
- Working or cleaning with harsh chemicals
Cornea Disease Treatment Options
A person’s ideal course of cornea disease treatment will depend on the underlying issue. While many cornea issues can be treated with conservative approaches like medicated eye drops, more extensive conditions may require surgical treatment. Common cornea surgeries include:
Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)
Certain conditions involving the top layers of the cornea can be treated through PTK surgery, which uses a gentle laser to treat lesions, dystrophies, nodules, and other issues.
Cornea Transplant Surgery
Also known as keratoplasty, corneal transplant surgery involves replacing the damaged part of a cornea with corneal tissue from a donor. *While we do not perform this procedure at Florida Medical Clinic, our Ophthalmologists will evaluate your condition and provide a referral to an outside specialist, skilled in this procedure.
Artificial Cornea Transplant Surgery
When traditional corneal transplantation isn’t successful, transplant surgery with an artificial cornea (keratoprosthesis) may be recommended.
Pterygium is an abnormal growth of scar-like tissue from the conjunctiva into the cornea. Excision surgery is used to remove this tissue growth.
Cornea-Based Astigmatism Correction
Astigmatism is a very common condition in which the curvature of the cornea is abnormal, causing blurred or distorted vision. Several laser-assisted procedures may be used to correct astigmatism, including:
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
- Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery
- Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) surgery
Complete Care for Corneal Conditions
The ophthalmologists at Florida Medical Clinic provide a full scope of specialized care to patients with all types of corneal diseases. If there is a need for a super-specialized corneal treatment, we will refer you to an outside specialist who is skilled in that procedure. If you would like to consult with an experienced eye specialist at one of our centers in Land O’Lakes, New Tampa, Zephyrhills, or North Tampa, request an appointment with one of our providers.
Proudly Serving: Land O’ Lakes, New Tampa, North Tampa, and Zephyrhills.