Corneal Ulcer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

A Corneal Ulcer is an open sore that forms in the cornea.

It is usually caused by an infection. Even small eye injuries or erosion caused by prolonged contact lens wear can cause infections.

In the front of the eye there is a clear layer of tissue called the cornea. The cornea is like a window that allows light to enter the eye. Tears defend the cornea against bacteria, viruses and fungi.


The main cause of corneal ulcers is infection:

Acanthamoeba keratitis : This infection occurs most frequently in contact lens wearers. It is an amoebic infection and, although rare, can lead to blindness.

Herpes simplex keratitis : Herpes simplex keratitis is a viral infection that causes repeated outbreaks of sores or sores in the eye.

Fungal keratitis: This fungal infection develops after a lesion in the cornea that involves a plant or plant material. Fungal keratitis can also develop in people with weakened immune systems.

Other causes of corneal ulcers include:

  • Dry Eye.
  • Eye injury
  • Inflammatory disorders.
  • Use non-sterile contact lenses.

Vitamin A deficiency : People who wear soft contact lenses that are expired or wear disposable contact lenses for a long period of time (even at night) are at increased risk of developing corneal ulcers.

Symptoms of Corneal Ulcer

You may notice signs of an infection before you notice the corneal ulcer. Symptoms of an infection include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eye.
  • Discharge of pus from the eye.
  • Burning or itching sensation in the eye.
  • Red or pink eye
  • Sensitivity to light.

The symptoms and signs of corneal ulcer include:

  • Ocular inflammation
  • Eye pain.
  • Excessive tear.
  • Blurry vision.
  • White spot on your cornea.
  • Swollen eyelids.
  • I put the ocular discharge.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Feeling that something is in your eye (strange body sensation).

All symptoms of corneal ulcers are serious and should be treated immediately to prevent blindness. A corneal ulcer in itself looks like a gray or white area or spot on the cornea usually transparent. Some corneal ulcers are too small to be seen without an increase, but you will feel the symptoms.


An ophthalmologist can diagnose corneal ulcers during an eye exam.

A test used to check for a corneal ulcer is a fluorescein stain on the eye. For this test, an eye doctor places a drop of orange dye on a thin piece of blotting paper. Then, the doctor transfers the dye to your eye by lightly touching the blotting paper on the surface of your eye.

Then, the doctor uses a microscope called a slit lamp to shine a special violet light on the eye and look for any damaged areas on the cornea. The corneal damage will look green when the violet light illuminates it.

If you have an ulcer on the cornea, your ophthalmologist will investigate it to find out why. To do that, the doctor can numb your eye with eye drops, then gently scrape the ulcer to get a sample for the test. The test will show if the ulcer contains bacteria, fungi or a virus.


Once your eye doctor discovers the cause of the corneal ulcer, you can prescribe an antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral eye medication to treat the underlying problem.

If the infection is bad, your doctor may place it in antibacterial eye drops while examining ulcer scrapes to find out the cause of the infection. Also, if your eye is inflamed, you may need to use eye drops with corticosteroids.

During treatment, your doctor may ask you to avoid the following:

  • Contact lenses.
  • Makeup.
  • Touch the eye unnecessarily.

In severe cases, the corneal ulcer can justify a corneal transplant. A corneal transplant involves the surgical removal of corneal tissue and its replacement with donor tissue.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a corneal transplant is a fairly safe procedure. But like any surgical procedure, there are risks.

This surgery can cause future health complications such as:

  • Rejection of donor tissue
  • Development of glaucoma (pressure inside the eye).
  • Ocular infection
  • Cataracts (opacity of the lens of the eye).
  • Swelling of the cornea


The best way to prevent corneal ulcers is to seek treatment as soon as you develop any symptoms of an eye infection or as soon as your eye is injured.

Other useful preventive measures include:

  • Avoid sleeping while wearing your contact lenses.
  • Clean and sterilize your contact lenses before and after using them.
  • Rinse the eyes to remove any foreign object.
  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes.


What is the long-term perspective?

Some people may also develop a severe loss of vision along with visual obstruction due to scarring on the retina. Corneal ulcers can also cause permanent scars on the eye. In rare cases, the entire eye can be damaged.

Although corneal ulcers are treatable, and most people recover fairly well after treatment, a reduction in vision may occur.