Disorders of the Cornea

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is the outermost layer of the eye. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye made up of 5 layers. The layers consist of the epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, stroma, Decemet’s membrane and the endothelium. The main function of the cornea is to allow light to pass into the eye so that it can reach the lens and then the retina. For this reason, the cornea must be transparent. A second chief function is to help focus light, like a camera lens. Our cornea specialist at Thomas Eye Group is Dr. David Sackel. Both the conjunctiva and the eyelids contain glands that make tear fluid. Tear fluid is an essential part of the systems which maintain the health of the cornea. Diseases of the cornea can cause distorted vision or even loss of vision.

Types of Corneal Disorders

The following are cornea conditions that can be caused by or are associated with DES.

Corneal Ulcers

A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea. Corneal ulcers usually result from an eye infection, but severe dry eye or other eye disorders can also cause them. Your doctor can diagnose an ulcer by staining the surface with a fluorescein dye that will show damage under the slit lamp light. Common symptoms of a corneal ulcer include redness and pain, blurred vision, tearing and a foreign body sensation.

Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophies are a group of rare genetic eye disorders. While some people are asymptomatic, others have a build-up of material in the cornea causes it to become opaque. This can lead to blurred vision and even vision loss. There are over 20 different types of corneal dystrophy. Some of these include Fuch’s dystrophy, map-dot dystrophy and mucus membrane pemphigoid.

Corneal Scarring

While the cornea is resilient and typically heals from minor abrasions, major corneal damage can result in a corneal scar. Corneal scars can be caused by improper use of contact lenses, deep scratches or lacerations, burns, and some diseases. This damage can cause the clear corneal tissue to be replaced by scar tissue, sometimes impairing your vision

Dry Eye Syndrome