Corneal ulcers can form due to trauma to the cornea, eyelid disease, severe dry eye, fungus, Herpes simplex viral infections, and other causes. The most common cause is from contact lens wear.
Corneal ulcers can be infected or non-infected. Bacterial ulcers tend to be the most painful type of corneal ulcer, and in some cases, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss through scarring or even corneal perforation. You can even lose an eye from them. Non-infected, or “sterile” ulcers, on the other hand, usually cause milder pain. Ulcers from the Herpes virus are common and can be treated with special drugs.
Improper care and handling of contact lenses, which can lead to infection, are often causes of corneal ulcers, often bacterial ones. If you are a contact lens wearer and develop an ulcer, your eye doctor will review your contact lens wearing habits and care regimen thoroughly. Important rules are to air-dry your case when the lenses are not in it, replace the case periodically, replace the lenses on the prescribed schedule, use the care regimen recommended by your doctor, and stick to the prescribed wearing schedule (no overnight wear, unless instructed to do so).
The symptoms of corneal ulcers may include:
- blurred vision
- sensitivity to light
Report a painful, red eye to your doctor promptly!
Treatment for corneal ulcers depends on the cause. It usually includes steroid eye drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or antibiotics. Often the antibiotic drops must be compounded in a special pharmacy. In some cases, it may be necessary to administer eye drops every hour around the clock. In rare cases when the cornea is severely damaged, a corneal transplant may be necessary to improve vision.