Cornea and External Disease
The cornea — the clear, protective outer layer of the eye — is extremely important to our vision. As light enters the eye, it is refracted, or bent, by the cornea, which must focus the light clearly on the retina to produce clear vision. Unfortunately, the cornea can be damaged by a range of factors, including disease, infection, degeneration and genetic disorders, which can cause severe discomfort and/or compromise an individual’s vision.
Delray Eye Associates, P.A. is proud to treat cornea patients referred to us from all of South Florida and elsewhere. Our ophthalmologists are well-versed in diagnosing corneal conditions and providing a broad range of treatments. Our eye surgeons have participated in numerous clinical trials and have contributed to the development of ophthalmic drugs for the treatment of corneal conditions and infections. We have also been a part of several studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for corneal transplant surgery and Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy.
Types of Corneal Conditions
- Corneal infections
- Corneal ulcers
- Corneal swelling (edema)
- Dry eye
- Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome
- Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy
- Shingles infection involving the eye
- Herpes simplex infections of the eye
Corneal infections can be caused by a range of factors, including injury and contact lens use (particular improper use). A corneal infection can greatly reduce an individual’s vision and cause significant discomfort. Severe corneal infections may lead to significant and permanent damage that requires corneal transplant surgery.
Corneal ulcers are often severe infections of the cornea, which are most commonly caused by bacterial and fungal infections. A corneal ulcer usually causes great discomfort and requires prompt medical attention. These cases often require cultures of the cornea and treatment with specially formulated eye drops that are not commercially available, along with intricate surgery to preserve the structural integrity of the eye.
Corneal swelling can be caused by a range of factors, including corneal infection, injury, previous eye surgery, and inherited diseases.
Dry eye is associated with inadequate lubrication of the eye’s surface. It may be caused by the eye’s impaired ability to produce tears as a result of aging, injury, disease, medications and/or contact lenses. There are other factors which your doctor may discuss with you. Although over-the-counter lubricating eye drops may bring some relief to dry eye patients, we offer further treatment options if necessary.
Courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Pterygium is a wedge-shaped fibro vascular growth on the cornea. The cause of pterygium is not well understood, but most scientists believe that exposure to the sun and dry eye contribute to the development of a pterygium. The most effective treatment is pterygium surgery, during which the growth is removed and a tissue graft is placed. This modern operation reduces the risk of recurrence of the pterygium and improves the cosmetic results.
Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome is a debilitating corneal condition that is associated with recurrent episodes of sudden, sharp pain, redness and watery eyes. It often occurs following a benign corneal abrasion or due to inherited corneal dystrophies. A range of medical and surgical treatment options may be offered.
Keratoconus is a corneal condition characterized by progressive thinning of the cornea. This inherited condition may progress to the point that eyeglasses no longer provide clear vision and only special types of contact lenses will work. Some keratoconus patients ultimately require a corneal transplant operation for clear vision. We are proud to offer a newer procedure known as collagen crosslinking, which holds promise for many patients with this disorder.
Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is a condition where the cells that line the inner corneal surface and keep it clear are in short supply. If the cornea becomes swollen, often following eye surgery, significant pain and loss of vision may result, often requiring corneal transplant surgery. The state-of-the-art DSAEK corneal transplant operation has been particularly successful in treating this condition, and our surgeons were some of the first in Palm Beach County to perform this surgery.
Shingles of the eye is a very common and potentially very devastating disease which may involve any portion of the eye. Studies have shown that prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the Herpes zoster virus, the cause of shingles, can significantly shorten the duration of the disease, reduce the risk of vision loss and lessen the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia, the long-term pain, itching and numbness that follows the acute infection. Despite timely and appropriate treatment, shingles can cause prolonged inflammation and corneal scarring that can lead to blindness in extreme cases.
Herpes simplex is a viral infection of the eye that usually responds promptly to appropriate treatment but can often masquerade as other eye conditions, thereby delaying the diagnosis and treatment. Herpes simplex can cause corneal inflammation and scarring with loss of vision. This condition often recurs in patients over many months or years.
Symptoms of Corneal Conditions
The symptoms of corneal conditions greatly depend on the type of medical problem you are experiencing and the severity level of the damage to the cornea. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Scratchiness or irritation
- Corneal swelling
- Sensitivity to light
Corneal Treatment Options
Our eye surgeons are experienced at a range of corneal procedures, including:
- Penetrating keratoplasty – traditional corneal transplant surgery
- DSAEK– the newer, sutureless cornea transplant
- Amniotic membrane transplants
- Pterygium surgery
- Anterior segment reconstruction
- Lens implant exchange
- Conjunctival flaps
- Collagen Crosslinking
Your treatment is based on the type of corneal condition that you are suffering from. Most corneal conditions are reversible; however, some may require corneal transplant surgery. We offer advanced corneal transplant surgery procedures that promote maximum patient safety and a smooth and speedy recovery.
Information on corneal and external diseases and other eye conditions is available at www.geteyesmart.org/.
To schedule an appointment with one of our cornea and external disease experts, Dr. Steven Rosenfeld and Dr. Marc Winnick, or to learn more about your treatment options, please visit our Contact Us page or call (561) 498-8100 or (561) 734-0267.