Corneal ulcers are serious ocular conditions characterized by open sores on the cornea, the transparent front surface of the eye. These ulcers can cause significant discomfort and, if left untreated, may lead to vision loss or even blindness.
Corneal ulcers often present with various symptoms, such as
• Eye pain
• Excessive tearing
• Blurry or decreased vision
• Light sensitivity
• Sensation of something foreign in the eye.
In severe cases, the affected eye may exhibit discharge, a white spot on the cornea, or a visible ulcer.
Corneal ulcers can result from various causes, including bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.Other common causes include eye trauma, extended contact lens wear, dry eyes, decreased tear production, and underlying conditions such as autoimmune diseases or vitamin A deficiency.
Corneal ulcers can be classified into three main types based on their underlying cause: bacterial, viral, and fungal ulcers.
• Bacterial ulcers are commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae.
• Viral ulcers, such as those caused by the herpes simplex virus, are often recurrent and may affect both eyes.
• Fungal ulcers are typically associated with agricultural injuries or prolonged contact lens use in contaminated environments.
Risk Factors –
Certain factors increase the risk of developing corneal ulcers. These includes –
• Compromised immune system
• Contact lens use
• Improper contact lens hygiene
• Eye injuries
• Previous ocular surgery
• Dry eyes
• Exposure to contaminated water
• Living in a tropical or subtropical climate.
If left untreated or inadequately managed, corneal ulcers can lead to severe complications. These includes –
• Corneal scarring, which can impair vision
• Corneal perforation
• Vision loss or blindness.
In some cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the eye, causing endophthalmitis, a serious intraocular inflammation.
A comprehensive eye examination is crucial for diagnosing corneal ulcers. An ophthalmologist may perform a slit-lamp examination to evaluate the cornea’s appearance and use fluorescein dye to highlight the ulcer’s size and location.
Additionally, a sample of the ulcer may be collected for laboratory testing to identify the causative organism and guide treatment.
Treatment for corneal ulcers aims to eradicate the underlying infection, promote corneal healing, and prevent complications.
• Depending on the type and severity of the ulcer, treatment may involve antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal eye drops, oral medications, or intravenous antibiotics in severe cases.
• Pain relief and lubricating eye drops may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort and promote healing.
• In certain cases, a therapeutic contact lens or a bandage contact lens may be fitted to protect the cornea and enhance healing.
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