Corneal Ulcer (Keratitis)

A corneal ulcer is a painful red eye accompanied by mild to heavy eye discharge and diminished vision. This is caused by an infection to the cornea with abscess.

Corneal Ulcer

Corneal Ulcer Causes

The common cause of corneal ulcers is bacterial infection that affects the cornea after an eye injury or trauma. Wearing contact lenses makes a person more vulnerable to a corneal ulcer. As contact lenses rub against the surface of the eye, it creates slight damage to the cornea and may allow bacteria to penetrate the eye.

To combat risks of corneal ulcers, practice good contact lens hygiene such as regularly washing hands and other safety practices. Aside from bacterial infection, there are also fungi and parasites that can cause corneal ulcers such as:

Acanthamoeba. These parasites can cause Acanthamoeba keratitis, a serious infection of the eye that can lead to vision loss. These Acanthamoeba parasites commonly reside in tap water, hot tubs, swimming pools, and other water sources.
Fusarium. These are associated with fungal keratitis outbreak experienced by people who used a certain type of contact lens solution which is now banned from the market.

People who do not take off their contact lenses before swimming can increase the risk of corneal ulcers from Acanthamoeba keratitis. Herpes simplex virus infection or ocular herpes can also damage the cornea. Some underlying causes such as eye allergies, dry eyes, and widespread general infection, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis can also cause corneal ulcers.

Corneal Ulcer

Corneal Ulcer Treatment

Call your doctor immediately if you suspect any sign of corneal ulcer to prevent permanent vision loss. If tests show that corneal ulcer is caused by bacteria, topical antibiotics may be prescribed.

Your doctor will have to examine the location and the size of corneal ulceration in your eye to determine the need for cultures. Regular checkups every one to three days may be required to speed up healing upon doctor’s advice.

Corneal ulcer in the center of the cornea takes longer to go away and could affect vision due to corneal scarring. Unfortunately, permanent vision loss may still occur even when the condition is identified and treated early.

If there is trauma to the eye, this may be fungal keratitis especially when organic matter reaches the eye as from a tree branch. Your doctor will diagnose fungal keratitis with microscopic evaluation of specially stained cultures. Antifungal agents will then be administered topically and orally depending on the severity of the corneal ulcer. The prognosis for normal vision will depend on the extent of the infection.

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