Corneal ulcer is an eye disease that is a result of a localised infection in your cornea. The infection is similar to an abscess. This eye disease usually manifests itself as a red and painful eye.
People afflicted with this eye disease will usually experience declining vision, as well as pain, redness and discharge that may range from mild to severe.
Causes of Corneal Ulcer Eye Disease
Common parasites called acanthamoeba can also enter your eye. These microorganisms are found in water sources such as hot tubs, plain tap water and swimming pools. Those who wear contact lens while swimming are at significant risk of developing this eye disease. The parasite can cause acanthamoeba keratitis, which is a serious infection of the eyes. It may result into the permanent scarring of your cornea as well as loss of vision.
Contact Lens Mishandling
People using contact lens are particularly susceptible to irritation in the eyes that may eventually result in corneal ulcer. This is caused when the contact lens rubs against the surface of the eye, which can then damage the epithelium. Even slight damage may create an opening for a bacterium or other pathogen to penetrate the eye.
Corneal ulcer can be associated with users of a certain kind of contact lens solution. Fusarium, a fungus associated with fungal keratitis, was often the culprit, as some contact lens solution were unable to prevent this infection. These solutions have since been withdrawn from the market.
The herpes simplex virus, or ocular herpes, may also cause the corneal ulcer eye disease. The virus may damage not only the exterior, but even deep layers of the surface of the eyes.
There may be other underlying causes of corneal ulcers. These may include the following conditions:
• Dry eyes
• Eye allergies
• General infection
• Immune system problems
• Multiple sclerosis
• Other inflammatory diseases.
Management and Evaluation of Corneal Ulcer
Here are some tips to remember to better manage this condition:
- If you are a contact-lens wearer and develop a painful red eye with reduced vision, see your therapeutically-endorsed optometrist immediately. Even 24 hours can make a big difference to your outcome. This is truly an ocular emergency.
- Do not self-medicate! The availability of broad-spectrum antibiotic drops, such as Chlorsig, over the counter has led to gross overuse of these eye drops. Always see an eye care professional.
- If this eye disease is left untreated, a person may suffer from severe vision loss or even the loss of an eye. It is therefore imperative for those suffering from corneal ulcer to see an eye doctor immediately.
- For those wearing contact lens, the chance of contracting this disease is lessened by simply practicing good hygiene. Always wash your hands before handling the lens and use clean contact lens solution. Disinfect the contact lens and its container properly.
- If the cause of the corneal ulcer is bacterial, the regular application of topical antibiotics is critical. The doctor may also need to culture the bacteria, depending on the size and location of the ulcer. Regular check-ups are also required, with the frequency depending on the gravity of the condition. For some contact-lens related corneal infections, you may be hospitalised to ensure best treatment and to decrease the risk of permanent scarring and vision loss.
- Central cornea ulceration may lead to permanent vision loss due to scarring, even if the condition is detected early. It will also take a longer time to heal.
- If the cause is fungal keratitis, topical and oral anti-fungal agents may be administered.
- Take note that there are cases of corneal ulcer that may require a cornea transplant even though it is detected early and managed correctly.
- Corneal ulcers are not that common and mainly associated with poor contact lens education or inappropriate handling of contact lenses by the patient. Over the years the pharmaceutical companies and the optometric profession has done a poor job of defining a contact lens as medical device. Of course it is a medical device. You are placing this device on your most precious sense – YOUR VISION! Corneal Ulcers from contact lens wear are preventable. Recently an extensive study showed that a major risk factor for corneal ulceration is the purchase of contact lenses from the Internet – why would this be?
- One reason could be once a person starts purchasing their lenses off the internet they perceive they do not need their eyes tested until THEY perceive a problem. Often it is too late by then.
- Dentists over the years have done a great job of educating the general public about dental hygiene. It is time we paid attention to our eyes.