Your cornea is the first thing the light hits when it reaches your eye—a transparent bulbous structure, which acts as your eyes’ outermost lens. With the iris, pupil, and lens’s help, it helps focus light onto the retina and contributes most to clear vision. At New York Ophthalmology, Dr. Gregory Stein is a specially trained ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal specialist who specializes in corneal care. We have 5 locations to serve patients in NYC, in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.
Because of its exposure to the external environment, it acts as the first defense line to foreign matter and has to take regular abuse. Its surface epithelial cells may heal; however, in some corneal diseases, the damage sustained may penetrate deeper into the layers of the cornea and cause permanent scarring. These corneal scars are opaque and can therefore lead to impaired vision.
Corneal Abrasion and Erosion
Corneal abrasions are scratches on the cornea’s surface. Corneal erosion occurs when the topmost epithelial layer loosens and comes off from the layers below it due to dry eyes. Corneal erosion may exacerbate corneal abrasions due to the missing topmost layer.
In both corneal erosion and abrasion cases, the patient experiences blurry vision and pain due to nerve cells in the cornea. Additionally, corneal abrasions can cause great discomfort as they often feel as though something is stuck in your eye. Depending on the extent of the damage, ophthalmologists may prescribe ointments and eye drops to relieve pain, reduce infection chances, and speed up the healing process.
Inflammation of the cornea is keratitis, and pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites may trigger it. Its symptoms include redness, pain, excessive discharge, impaired vision, and photophobia. Contact lens wearers are more likely to experience infectious keratitis if they do not handle them with care and wear them continuously.
An ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotics, biocides, antifungals, or antivirals depending on the pathogen that is causing it. A patient may require a corneal transplant in severe cases if the cornea sustains extensive corneal scars and vision loss.
Keratoconus is a condition in which the dome-shaped cornea thins and turns into a cone shape. The shape causes blurred and distorted vision and may cause photophobia. It comes with age and progresses slowly. Advanced keratoconus may lead to corneal scars, particularly where the cone is most prominent.
Mild to moderate cases can be treated with corrective lenses and eyeglasses. Corneal collagen cross-linking treatment may help strengthen the cornea’s collagen proteins to preserve its shape and provide it with rigidity to slow or stop the condition from progressing. In severe cases, a corneal transplant is the only resort to correct impaired vision.
No matter the corneal disease, one must always consult their ophthalmologist as they have the tools and diagnostic knowledge to pinpoint such conditions. The medical professionals at our facilities across New York consider a patient’s occupation, family history, environment, and medical history when dealing with corneal disease. We help them manage their condition to prevent any future complications.
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