This is an open lesion on the cornea which is the thin clear structure overlying the iris and is the colored portion of the eye. The symptoms of most corneal ulcer are normally very obvious, especially in those cases where the ulcer is deep. Lenses worn for lengthy periods of time can block oxygen from getting to the cornea, making it more vulnerable to infections.
Treatment for infectious ulcers which are not severe include medication with either an antibacterial, antiviral or antifungal medication, Eye drops which are steroids can be given to lessen any inflammation. This website is for informational purposes only and Is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Anatomically, the cornea is the transparent film that covers the iris, the pupil, and the anterior chamber. Corneal stroma – this is also known as substantia propria, which is a thick and transparent middle layer that contains collagen fibers and widely distributed keratocytes. Corneal endothelium – this layer is composed of simple squamous or low cuboidal monolayer and are responsible for regulating the fluid level and the exchange of solutes between the aqueous and corneal stromal compartments.
Corneal ulcers then occur when the outer corneal surface develops a sore or an opening usually brought about by an infection. Bacterial infection as a cause of corneal ulcer is common in individuals who wear contact lenses. The edges of the contact lens have the tendency to scrape the corneal surface and start the ulcerations, facilitating the entry of bacteria.
Since there are contact lenses that can be worn for extended periods, dirt particles can be trapped beneath the lenses and can rub the cornea. Wearing contact lenses for an extended period can cause blockage of the normal flow of oxygen to the corneal surfaces. Foremost, if the corneal ulcer is caused by the contact lenses word for an extended period, then the ophthalmologist would usually remove the contact lens. If the ophthalmologist suspects that the ulcer is caused by bacterial infection, he or she would not recommend putting a patch on the eye as patching will create a dark environment that promotes growth of bacteria. If the cause of the ulceration is due to bacterial infection, antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed by the physician to control the infection. In most severe cases wherein the ulcers do not respond to any medication and pose more serious complications, the next choice of treatment is corneal transplant. If one feels and sees signs and symptoms of corneal irritation and one is wearing a contact lens, it is recommended to remove the contact lens right away. Corneal neovascularisation is the ingrowth of abnormal blood vessel into the cornea from the limbus (junction of cornea and eye-white).The cornea normally has no blood vessels.
Corneal edema (swelling), like neovascularisation, related to insufficient oxygen to the cornea. A corneal ulcer is an an inflammatory and potentially infective condition of the cornea involving a disruption of its topmost epithelial layer down through its middle or stromal layer.
The cornea is the clear, protective covering at the front of the eye and is the first part of the eye to focus light. Still, all corneal ulcers should be looked at by an eye care professional to ensure that there is no infection and to help craft an appropriate treatment plan. Symptoms of corneal ulcers vary from person to person, depending on such factors as the location and size of the ulcer.


Not all corneal ulcers are visible without a microscope, however, especially if they are caused by the herpes simplex virus (discussed further in the causes section of this article).
In most cases, corneal ulcers are caused by germs that enter through a previous injury or scratch to the cornea. Corneal ulcers are more common in contact lens wearers, possibly due to the rubbing of a dirty or defective  lens against the surface of the eye.
Contact lens wearers who do not practice proper hygiene also increase their risk of developing corneal ulcers. Studies have shown that overnight wear of contact lenses is the biggest risk factor for serious corneal infection. If you experience symptoms of corneal ulcers, you should contact an eye care professional immediately for a complete eye exam.
Regardless of the visibility of the ulcer, a yellow dye may be used to see the affected area more easily. In some cases, minor but permanent vision changes occur, but most people completely heal from corneal ulcers. If you had a corneal ulcer in the past, you are considered to be prone to long-term damage to the cornea and may experience noticeable changes in your vision in the future. When there is erosion or sore formation on the cornea (outer layer) it is called corneal ulcer.
Corneal ulcers can also occur due to impairment of function of eyelids, when it does not close fully like Bell’s palsy. In many cases, wearing contact lenses continuously and overnight can cause eye infection which may lead to ulcer. Corneal ulcers can cause itching, watery discharge, blurred vision, bloodshot eyes, redness on the eyes, sensitivity to light, painful eyes and white scaly patches on the cornea.
Your ophthalmologist will examine the infected eye through special microscope to detect scrapings of ulcer. The eye is actually protected by the lid of the eye as well as tears but bacteria and germs can still be able to gain entry to the cornea thru small lesions when damaged. Condition causing loss of feeling to the corneal surface can escalate the likelihood of corneal ulceration. Chemical burns or other damaging solutions that get in the eye causing injury to the cornea and lead to ulceration. There are contact lenses that can be worn for several days without removing them at night; this type of contact lenses put people at higher risk for damaging the cornea. The frequency of using an eye drop would also depend on the severity and the size of the ulcer.
Contact lens wear slightly reduce the oxygen deliver to the cornea, when lens wear is prolonged for days at a time or a lens that significantly limit the oxygen supply to the cornea, the cornea responds to this chronic oxygen deprivation by growing new abnormal blood vessels.
A corneal ulcer can often be the result of an untreated corneal abrasion (a scratch on the cornea).
If the ulcer is caused by bacteria, it may be visible to the naked eye in the form of a white patch on the cornea. If enough rubbing occurs, the corneal surface can become weak and break, which enables bacteria to enter the eye and begin reproducing and spreading.
In cases in which an ulcer is not visible, eye drops that temporarily stain the eye may be used to identify the ulcer.


Follow-up visits with your eye doctor are typically recommended, regardless of the severity of the ulcer.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a corneal ulcer, you should seek medical attention immediately. Presence of foreign particles like dust, hay, or tiny insects can cause irritation on the eyes causing ulcers. Contact lenses would slowly scrape the edges of the cornea causing ulcer which leads to the entry of bacteria.
The cornea consists of unmyelinated nerve endings that are sensitive to various stimuli such as touch, changes in temperature, and chemicals. If the eyelids are open, the cornea is subject to the cold air in the environment that easily dries the eye. Once an injury or scratch occurs, bacteria immediately begin invading the wound, which leads to infection and corneal ulcers. Pain, redness, and vision problems are usually associated with ulcers that contain bacteria. If the ulcer is caused by the herpes simplex virus it is called a dendritic ulcer, and it may not be visible to the naked eye.
Fungal keratitis can also occur after an injury to the cornea involving plant material, or if your immune system is suppressed. The virus would repeatedly attack the cornea causing continuous infection which is triggered by exposure to sunlight and stressful events. In addition, continuous wearing of lenses can disrupt normal blood flow on the corneal surface leading to ulcerous growth and infection.
If left untreated for long time, corneal ulcers can damage the vision or cause scars on the cornea. The reason why it is transparent is because it has no blood vessels; it receives nutrition though from the nutrients from the tear fluid in the outside and the aqueous humor through the inside surface as well as from the neurotrophins coming from the nerve fibers that innervate the cornea. Allowing the condition to continue can cause breaks on the corneal surface and lead to corneal infection and permanent scarring of the cornea. The outermost layer is called corneal epithelium; tough covering that protects the corneal stroma is called Bowman’s layer and the thick transparent layer in the middle made of collagen fibers is called corneal stroma.
Next is the layer that serves as the basement membrane called Descemet’s membrane and finally a layer that contains sqamous cuboidal layer that manages the fluid level of the eye is called corneal endothelium. Common infections that may lead to corneal ulcers are: Acanthamoeba Keratitis This infection mostly happens to contact lens wearers. Fungal Keratitis This is a fungal infection that develops after an injury to the cornea involving a plant or plant material.
Your doctor may determine the cause by numbing your eye with eye drops, then gently scraping the ulcer to obtain a sample of it. A corneal transplant involves the surgical removal of the corneal tissue and its replacement with donor tissue.



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