Your cornea is the outermost layer of your eye. It is clear and shaped like a dome. The cornea helps to shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. It also helps your eye to focus. If you wear contact lenses, they float on top of your corneas.
Problems with the cornea include:
- Refractive errors
- Dystrophies – conditions in which parts of the cornea lose clarity due to a buildup of cloudy material
Am I at risk for corneal conditions?
Some corneal conditions, like corneal dystrophies, run in families. But there are steps you can take to lower your risk of corneal injuries and infections.
To prevent corneal injuries, wear protective eyewear when you:
- Play sports that use a ball or puck, like baseball or hockey
- Do yardwork, like mowing the lawn or using a weedwhacker
- Make repairs, like painting or hammering
- Use machines, like sanders or drills
- Use chemicals, like bleach or pesticides
If you wear contact lenses, always follow the instructions to clean, disinfect, and store your lenses. This can help prevent corneal infections, like keratitis.
What is the treatment for corneal conditions?
Many corneal conditions can be treated with prescription eye drops or pills. If you have advanced corneal disease, you may need a different treatment.
Laser treatment. To treat some corneal dystrophies and other conditions, doctors can use a type of laser treatment called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) to reshape the cornea, remove scar tissue, and make vision clearer.
Corneal transplant surgery. If the damage to your cornea can’t be repaired, doctors can remove the damaged part and replace it with healthy corneal tissue from a donor.
Artificial cornea. As an alternative to corneal transplant, doctors can replace a damaged cornea with an artificial cornea, called a keratoprosthesis (KPro).