What is a cornea?
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front part of the eye. It is made up of a highly organized group of cells and protein. Unlike most other tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish and protect it against infection. The cornea receives its nourishment form the tears and aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eye). The reason there are no blood vessels in the cornea is because it must remain completely clear and transparent to function properly—blood vessels would literally get in the way.
What does the cornea do?
The cornea works much the same way as a camera lens focuses light to create an image on film. Light enters the eye from outside to the cornea, the cornea focuses the light to create an image on the retina and the retina sends this information through the optic nerve to the brain.
Cornea conditions and diseases
Astigmatism is a condition in which light is distorted by the eye, causing blurry vision. More specifically, astigmatism occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped. Instead of having a symmetrically round shape, it looks more like an oval or an ellipse.
This irregular shape of the cornea causes light entering the eye to become distorted, resulting in blurry images. Symptoms of astigmatism may include:
- Distorted or blurred vision at all distances
- Difficulty driving at night
- Blurring of small print or difficulty reading
- Double vision
Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea that can occur from infection after viruses, bacteria, or fungi enter the cornea. Though uncommon, this type of infection can also arise after injury from wearing contact lenses. Symptoms of Keratitis may include:
- Severe eye pain
- Reduced visual clarity
- Corneal discharge
Keratoconus is a progressive disease characterized by an alteration in the shape of the cornea, causing astigmatism. Keratoconus may also result in swelling and scarring of the cornea and vision loss. Other symptoms are similar to those of astigmatism.
Ocular herpes (herpes of the eye) is a viral infection of the eye that can reoccur. While ocular herpes is the same virus that causes cold sores, it can also be transmitted sexually by the same virus that causes genital herpes. The symptoms include:
- Pain in and around only one eye
- Redness, rash, or sores on the eyelids and around the eyes and forehead.
- Redness of the eye
- Swelling and cloudiness of the cornea
Herpes zoster (shingles) is a recurrence of the chicken pox virus in people who have already had the disease. Symptoms of herpes zoster include:
- Red patches
- Fluid-filled blisters that break easily
- A rash around the face
Who can help?
Ophthalmologists are the most highly trained optic surgeons in the field of eye care. The difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist is commonly not understood. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have graduated college and at least 8 years of additional medical training and are licensed to practice medicine and surgery. They have the training to diagnose eye diseases and prevent them in the first place. In addition, they can operate on the eye to repair a whole host of non-optimum conditions such as poor eyesight and cataracts. Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide vision care such as eye exams, sight testing and prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses.
Schedule a consultation
If you are experiencing any eye problems, your next step is a consultation with board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Christian. During this time, he will perform any necessary exam to determine the best course of action to restore your eyesight. Please call our office today to schedule a consultation.