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A Closer Look at Your Cornea and What Can Go Wrong

A Closer Look at Your Cornea and What Can Go Wrong

We all depend a lot on our vision, and when something goes wrong, even a small change in your eye health can have a big impact on your life. Located on the front surface of your eyes, your corneas play an important role in providing clear vision. But their front-and-center location also means that they’re exposed to a lot of damaging factors, including injuries and diseases.

At Advanced Lasik, Randa Garrana, MD, provides state-of-the-art cornea treatments, including corneal cross-linking and cornea transplants, to help patients maintain good vision and keep their eyes healthy. Here’s what she wants you to know about your corneas and the problems they can have, including what symptoms to look for.

Corneas and your vision: How they’re connected

Covering the iris and pupil at the front of your eye, the clear, dome-shaped cornea bends light as it enters your eye, directing it to the light-sensitive retina all the way at the back of your eye. This bending is called refraction, and it helps focus light into clear, defined images.

Your cornea is responsible for two-thirds of your focusing power, with the remaining third owing to the clear lens located behind your iris and pupil. A problem with your cornea can have a direct impact on your vision.

In addition to playing a crucial role in how you see, your corneas also provide some protection for your eye. In fact, your corneas have many tiny nerve endings that sense when something is touching your eye. 

Because your corneas need to be completely clear, they don’t contain any blood vessels. Instead, all the nutrients your corneas need come from your tears and the fluid behind the corneas in a part of your eye called the aqueous humor.

Cornea problems: Diseases and injuries

Located right at the front of your eye, your corneas are exposed to the environment and the particles and germs in the air. Blinking and tears help protect and clean your corneas, but problems still occur. 

Scratches 

Corneal scratches are relatively common, and they can be caused by all sorts of things. A branch that grazes your eye, a particle of dirt that becomes lodged in your eye — even a dirty contact lens can cause a corneal scratch. Scratches require immediate medical care to prevent an infection from developing. If the cornea is badly damaged, you may need a corneal transplant.

Dry eye

Your corneas depend on a steady flow of tears to stay healthy. Dry eye interferes with normal tear production and distribution, which means it can have a dramatic effect on corneal health, increasing your risk of scratches and inflammation. 

Inflammation

Corneal inflammation is called keratitis. Corneal inflammation can be caused by an infection, an underlying eye disease, an injury to your eye, or contact lens use, including improper cleaning of your lenses.

Infection

Corneal infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Without treatment, they can develop into a corneal ulcer, a sore that can cause permanent scarring and vision loss.

Keratoconus

Keratoconus happens when your corneas become thin and bulge outward. The cause of keratoconus is unknown, but without prompt treatment, it can cause serious vision problems. Dr. Garrana provides a state-of-the-art treatment called corneal cross linking to treat keratoconus.

Corneal dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy is a term describing a group of eye conditions that are inherited. Most dystrophies cause a build up of material in the layers of the cornea, resulting in some degree of vision loss.

Your corneas can also be affected by other diseases, including herpes, shingles, and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a skin condition that can also cause severe corneal damage.

Custom care for better eye health

Cornea problems are just one cause of eye symptoms and vision problems. As a top-ranked ophthalmologist with offices in New York City and Pasadena and Long Beach, California, Dr. Garrana offers comprehensive eye care for every part of your eye, including your corneas. 

If you’ve noticed a change in your vision or unusual symptoms with your eyes, or if it’s been awhile since your last routine eye exam, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Garrana today.

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