What is Cornea?
The cornea is the outermost fibrous layer of the eye: the sclerocorneal layer. The sclera is nothing but the white of the eye. The cornea is the transparent structure like a watch glass through which we see the world. However, this layer is made of five delicate membranes that are placed one upon another. It is the most sensitive and major object that helps to focus on vision, and primarily responsible for centering light rays on the retina of the eye. Luckily, every human being on the earth is blessed with such transparency, and clarity of the cornea, that any changes in the eyes due to any disease or abnormal stress leads to loss of transparency, blurring, and even loss of vision.
In addition to this, the cornea also plays a vital role in protecting eyes from dirt, dust, and germs. All eyes are not the same. When somebody’s eye is too long, the chances of myopia is certain as the light focuses in front of the retina. But, when eyes are too short, chances of hyperopia are obvious because of light rays that focus behind the retina. However, if the cornea is shaped like an oval shape or back of a spoon, you can call the complication of vision as astigmatism as light focuses on more than one point and forms a blurred image.
Let’s dive more into it.
As the cornea surface is so delicate, any small injury or infection can lead to damage or loss of corneal transparency and disruption in vision. Some of the common complications in cornea include corneal ulcers, keratitis, and keratoconus, infections like herpes, and corneal abrasions caused by external injuries.
Common symptoms one can experience are:
Every year at least 25000 cases can be seen due to bacterial and fungal corneal ulcers in India. Overuse of contact lenses, trauma, and dry eyes are some of the main causes of developing infections in cornea.
Corneal ulcers require almost a quarter of a year for intensive treatment with eye drops or tablets. It can be healed by corneal scarring. If somebody feels blurriness or vision loss because of corneal ulcers, he/she may require corneal grafting later in the future. If medical treatment doesn’t work properly and pus formed, the cornea can eventually perforate. Hence non-healing corneal ulcers may require therapeutic grafting to protect the eye from vision loss.
There are different degenerative conditions like spheroidal degenerations, band keratopathy, lipid keratopathy, etc. that can lead to reduced vision and may require corneal grafting.
Corneal dystrophies are hereditary disorders that cause excess productions of material that deposited in the cornea. And, these excessive materials cause visual impairment and requires corneal grafting or laser treatment.
It is a kind of condition where the layer of the cornea becomes thinner than usual and starts swelling forward. Keratoconus is a progressive condition that causes blurring or a visual impairment, especially in youngsters. Also, common in childhood eye allergy and rubbing habit, it mostly starts in the second decade between the age of 10 and 20. One of the fresh treatments for keratoconus is corneal collagen cross-linking with Riboflavin C3R that stabilizes a keratoconus cornea. For advanced Keratoconus, ophthalmologists perform Deep Lamellar Keratoplasty or Penetrating Keratoplasty.
Corneal Treatment and Various Options
To reduce the symptoms and curing the corneal disease, it requires multi-modality medications. Moreover, this treatment requires patience and frequent follow-ups as it lasts for a longer duration. The most essential point for early recovery is a patient’s compliance with proper medications as per the instructions. In case any infections in the cornea detected, a small amount of superficial tissue is scrapped and tested for the type of infections and the reason behind the organism growing in it.
Any injury to cornea can lead to potential blinding, and hence, treatment is mandatory. For chemical injuries, one should immediately wash eyes with plenty of water or immediately consult an eye doctor.
Wavefront Lasik or Customized Lasik is an advanced technology in vision restoration and enhancement. It is a giant stride from conventional Lasik. While conventional Lasik can only rectify the spectacle power, but not subtle optical aberrations, Wavefront-guided Lasik can do it and improve vision much above the normal levels.
Corneal Transplant – A method of choice of treatment
When a visual loss occurs due to loss of corneal transparency, corneal transplantation is the only method that can restore your eyes to normal. When while thickness of the cornea is damaged, full-thickness corneal transplantation is done. The damaged cornea is completely removed in this process, and a healthy cornea from a donor’s eye is transplanted.
DO you know the entire cornea is only about 0.5 mm in thickness? Through the latest advanced technology, we can now identify the injury restricted to the thinnest layers of the cornea. It has also made possible removal of the damaged layer of the cornea rather than the whole cornea. The latest technology has revolutionized the practice of eye transplants.
Corneas are made of groups of proteins and cells. Like other tissues, the cornea doesn’t contain any blood vessels. Instead, it relies on tears and the fluid that sits behind the cornea itself. It provides nourishment as well as protection to the eye.
The cornea is made of five layers, and each layer of it has its own important function. Corneal disorders affect both the surface layers and the deeper layers. Now, let’s look at the most frequently asked questions about corneal diseases.
Yes, a damaged cornea often leads to blindness in some people. Infectious corneal diseases like keratitis, and non-infectious conditions like inherited and degenerative conditions, that can lead to blindness.
Yes, the herpes simplex virus which is responsible for cold sores can damage your cornea. Herpes virus can be one of the corneal disorders’ infectious conditions. It is also otherwise known as the herpes zoster ophthalmicus virus.
If you suspect any signs or symptoms of corneal disease or have a question about damaged cornea, then come and visit KomalEye care. While corneal disease can be enfeebling, advanced treatment, swift diagnosis has minimized the chances of lasting damage.