What is a Corneal Ulcer and How is it Treated?

Uncomfortable and unsightly, corneal ulcers can disrupt your life. Corneal ulcers are open sores on the cornea, the thin, colored layer covering the iris. Characteristic of corneal ulcers are red, itchy, puss-filled eyes accompanied with blurry vision. If not treated with the proper care immediately, corneal ulcers can lead to blindness or even loss of the eye. Read on to learn more about corneal ulcers and how to treat them.

Common Causes of Corneal Ulcers

Bacterial Infection
The most common cause of corneal ulcers is bacterial infections. Typically, bacteria invade the cornea after an injury or some other irritation to the eye. Contact lenses are a common culprit for eye inflammation and infection, especially if you’re not using proper hygiene practices. In addition, be sure to wash your hands whenever handling contact lenses.

Fungal or Parasitic Infection
There are some fungus and parasites that can cause corneal ulcers. Acanthamoeba is a very serious form of parasitic infection that can infect the cornea. It’s commonly contracted in water in places such as swimming pools and hot tubs. If you wear contact lenses, it’s important to remove them before swimming because the risk of infection from Acanthamoeba increases significantly.
If you suspect you have a corneal ulcer from Acanthamoeba, contact an eye doctor immediately. This form of infection can cause severe scarring and vision loss.

How to Treat Corneal Ulcers

Using a special eye microscope, your doctor will determine if you have a corneal ulcer.
Depending on the severity of the ulcer, your eye doctor will most likely prescribe topical eye drop antibiotics along with oral pain medication. Your doctor will also recommend not wearing contact lenses for a while and avoid touching your eye. If antibiotics are not working, emergency eye surgery might be necessary for a corneal transplant.

Protect Yourself from Corneal Ulcers

Proper eye care is the best way to prevent corneal ulcers. Here are some simple tips:

  • Practice proper hygiene when managing contact lenses. For example, never wear contacts to bed and cleanse them with a lens solution, not tap water.
  • Regularly replace your contact lenses.
  • Wear protective eyewear when working around the house or outside.

Concerned that you might have a corneal ulcer? Book an appointment with your Valley Eyecare Center eye doctor. Call us at 602-955-2700 or schedule your next session online, today!