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Corneal Ulcer

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine

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Corneal Ulcer

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
The cornea is a clear lens that focuses light on the retina. A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea that can cause severe pain, redness, swollen eyelids, and excess tearing or discharge from the eye. Other symptoms of a corneal ulcer include blurry vision, a feeling of a foreign object in the eye, light sensitivity, and a small white area on the cornea. (This white area may only visible with magnification.)

Most corneal ulcers are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. The bacteria or fungi that cause corneal ulcers usually enter the eye due to a scratch from contact lenses or other eye trauma. Fungal infections can occur due to overuse of steroid eyedrops. The viruses that may cause a corneal ulcer include the herpes simplex virus (which also triggers cold sores) or the varicella virus (which also triggers chickenpox and shingles).

Another cause of corneal ulcers is eye trauma from foreign particles, such as sand or glass, that become caught under the eyelid and tear a hole in the cornea, as well as burns on the eye from caustic substances, such as chemicals. In addition, conditions that lead to dry eyes, such as Bell's palsy, can make a cornea more prone to tearing.

Perhaps the most common risk factor cited for developing a corneal ulcer is wearing contact lenses. This is due to several factors. First of all, torn or scratched lenses can scrape the surface of the cornea and create an ulcer, as can foreign substances that become caught between the lens and the cornea. Lenses that are not cleaned adequately may contain bacteria that can cause a corneal ulcer, and lenses that are worn for long periods of time can deprive the cornea of oxygen, thereby making it more prone to infection.

A person who has a corneal ulcer should avoid wearing contact lenses or touching and rubbing the eye. Although over the counter pain relievers can help with the discomfort, antibiotic eyedrops are usually required in order to heal the infection. In extreme circumstances, hospital facilities may be required.

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