Conditions that Affect the Cornea

Common Conditions that affect the cornea include:

  • Injuries
  • After minor injuries or scratches, the cornea usually heals on its own. Deeper injuries can cause corneal scarring, resulting in a haze on the cornea that impairs vision. If you have a deep injury, or a corneal disease or disorder, you could experience: pain in the eye, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, inflammation in the eye, headache, nausea, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek help from an eye care professional.

  • Allergies
  • The most common allergies that affect the eye are those related to pollen, particularly when the weather is warm and dry. Symptoms in the eye include redness, itching, tearing, burning, stinging, and watery discharge, although usually not severe enough to require medical attention. Antihistamine decongestant eyedrops effectively reduce these symptoms. Rain and cooler weather, which decreases the amount of pollen in the air, can also provide relief. For more information see Facts about Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis).

  • Keratitis
  • Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea. Noninfectious keratitis can be caused by a minor injury, or from wearing contact lenses too long. Infection is the most common cause of keratitis. Often, these infections are also related to contact lens wear, especially improper cleaning of contact lenses or overuse of old contact lenses that should be discarded. Minor corneal infections are usually treated with antibacterial eye drops. If the problem is severe, it may require more intensive antibiotic or antifungal treatment to eliminate the infection, as well as steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation.

  • Dry eye
  • Dry eye is a condition in which the eye produces fewer or lower quality tears and is unable to keep its surface lubricated.The main symptom of dry eye is usually a scratchy feeling or as if something is in your eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning in the eye, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge from the eye, and pain and redness in the eye. Sometimes people with dry eye also feel as if their eyelids are very heavy or their vision is blurred. For more detailed information about dry eye and its treatments, please see the NEI publication Facts about Dry Eye.