The outermost layer of the eye is called the cornea.
The cornea’s purpose is twofold:
- It provides a physical barrier protecting the eye form dust, germs and other foreign particles that could damage the eye.It is also the eye’s outer lens.
- Incoming light is refracted onto the lens. Retina takes in the focused light and converts it to vision. The cornea is essential for good vision.
There are four common problems associated with corneal disease:
- Microbial infections
- “Pink eye”
- Ocular herpes
- Herpes Zoster
Microbial infections are also known as keratitis. When foreign particles pierce the cornea tissue, bacteria and fungi will cause infection resulting in inflammation and pain. In some cases vision clarity is lost temporarily.
- Treatment for microbial infections may include anti bacterial and anti-fungal drops, antibiotics, or a combination of both.
Pink eye is perhaps the ocular disease the public is more aware of. It is a contagious disease that can be transmitted by coming in contact with the infected party. Inflammation of the conjunctiva, the protective membrane of the eyelids, occurs.
- Treatment involves a tandem of antibiotic and steroid doses.
Ocular herpes occurs when the Herpes Simplex I virus attacks the immune system. A large and painful sore appears on the surface of the cornea. Because it is a herpetic infection, it is incurable and recurrent.
- Treatment is difficult and unsatisfactory. In milder cases, drops may be used. Scraping away of the infected cells with a cotton swab sometimes alleviates the symptoms.
Herpes zoster is sometimes referred to as shingles. The infection is cause by the chicken pox virus, varicella-zoster. The virus remains dormant after the initial childhood outbreak. In some adults, the virus will reactivate and spread to the cornea. This happens in approximately 40 percent of the cases.
- Treatment includes anti-viral medication.