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Common Causes of Corneal Ulcer: Unveiling the Possible Factors

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Corneal ulcers are the eye condition in which the outermost part of the eye, known as the cornea develops an open sore.

These eye conditions often start as minor eye infections and then progress to vision-threatening stages.

To receive proper treatment for this serious eye condition, it is vital to understand what caused the corneal ulcer.

In this article, we will discuss the common causes of corneal ulcers along with other risk factor factors.

Causes of Corneal Ulcer

There can be numerous factors behind the development of a corneal ulcer.

In most cases, corneal ulcers start with an inflammation in the cornea, known as Keratitis

As this inflammation worsens, it gradually perforates the corneal layer, leading to formation of ulcers.

Eye infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the primary causes of corneal ulcers.

Furthermore, certain autoimmune conditions may also lead to corneal ulcers.

Let us discuss these common causes behind corneal ulcers in detail below.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial eye infections are the most common cause of corneal ulcers.

Corneal ulcers caused by bacteria are often referred to as Bacterial Keratitis, although this designation is medically inaccurate.

Staphylococcus Aureus, Streptococcus Pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas are common bacterial species that may lead to corneal ulcers.

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  • Fungal Infections

    Fungal corneal ulcers are formed when an eye injury gets infected by a plant or vegetable element.

    Common fungi species such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, Candida, and Scedosporium Apiospermum may cause fungal corneal ulcers.

    Parasitic Infections

    Certain parasites, such as Acanthamoeba, can lead to infection in the eyes, resulting in corneal ulcers.

    Acanthamoeba is a free-living parasite often found in water bodies and soil. It can easily enter the eyes through water, especially when wearing contact lenses.

    Many parasitic infections are transmitted through contaminated food or water or coming in contact with infected individuals. It is advised to practice good hygiene to prevent such factors from affecting your eye health.

    Viral Infections

    Viral eye infections are a prevalent cause of Keratitis and corneal ulcers in developed nations.

    Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster are the most common viruses that may lead to corneal ulcers.

    Autoimmune Diseases

    Besides eye infections, certain autoimmune diseases might also be responsible for corneal ulcers.

    Systemic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and Wegener Granulomatosis (WG) may result in Peripheral Ulcerative Keratitis (PUK).

    PUK is an eye condition that can cause both infectious and non-infectious corneal ulcers.

    To learn about the exact cause of your corneal ulcer, it is recommended to consult an eye doctor. 

    Diagnosing the cause behind corneal ulcers is the first step to receive proper and effective treatment.

    Risk Factors For Corneal Ulcers

    Suffering from dry eyeSource: pixelshot
    Suffering from dry eye

    In addition to the causes stated above, many other factors may make an individual prone to corneal ulcers.

    A major risk factor for developing eye infections and corneal ulcers is wearing contact lenses.

    Additionally, minor cuts and scratches on the cornea may increase the risk of bacterial eye infections.

    Furthermore, severe cases of dry eyes may also make the eyes prone to infections.

    These eye infections may turn into corneal ulcers if left untreated.

    Therefore, it is essential to protect your eyes from potentially infectious substances and seek timely treatment.

    Sharing eye makeup or using expired contact lens solutions can potentially elevate the risk of corneal ulcers.

    Treatment Methods for Corneal Ulcer

    Eye checkup (follow doctor's advice)Source: AMR_Images_from_Getty_Images
    Consult an eye doctor for proper guidance

    Just like other medical conditions, treating corneal ulcers depends on their cause.

    In the case of bacterial corneal ulcers, antibiotics are the most prescribed medications. Similarly, antivirals are prescribed to manage viral corneal ulcers.

    For corneal ulcers caused by fungi, you may need certain antifungal medications such as Natamycin.

    Additionally, certain antiparasitic medications may be prescribed if the corneal ulcer is a result of parasitic attack.

    However, if your corneal ulcer has turned severe, you may require surgical treatments such as corneal gluing and transplants.

    Therefore, it is essential to consult an eye doctor timely to receive proper treatment for corneal ulcers to avoid them from turning severe.

    To learn more about the treatment options available for corneal ulcers, read A Comprehensive Guide to Corneal Ulcer Treatment.


    Corneal ulcers are serious eye conditions that may have various underlying causes.

    Eye infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are among the most common causes of corneal ulcers. 

    Other factors responsible for corneal ulcers may include autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Wegener Granulomatosis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

    Besides these medical conditions, other risk factors for corneal ulcers include wearing contact lenses, scratches on the cornea, and dry eyes.

    For the treatment of corneal ulcers, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, antifungals, or antiviral eye drops, depending on the underlying cause.

    In case your corneal ulcer gets severe, you may need to undergo corneal transplants or other surgical procedures.

    Therefore, it is essential to visit an eye doctor to receive proper treatment for corneal ulcers to prevent further eye damage.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What virus causes corneal ulcers?

    Virus species such as Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster are the most common viruses behind corneal ulcers.
    Other species behind viral corneal ulcers may include Varicella-Zoster and Cytomegalovirus. However, these are relatively uncommon.

    Can stress cause corneal ulcers?

    No, stress cannot independently cause corneal ulcers. 
    However, excessive and prolonged stress may make you prone to serious eye conditions such as Glaucoma and corneal ulcers.

    Who is at risk for corneal ulcers?

    Individuals wearing contact lenses are at an increased risk of developing corneal ulcers. 
    Additionally, minor corneal cuts, abrasion, and dry eyes may also make people prone to such eye conditions.

    Will a corneal ulcer heal itself?

    No, a corneal ulcer is unlikely to heal itself independently. Corneal ulcers are serious eye conditions that may lead to complete vision loss.
    Therefore, it is essential to receive medical treatment for corneal ulcers.

    Do eye ulcers leave scars?

    Yes, corneal ulcers may leave scars after treatment. Deeper and more severe corneal ulcers may lead to visible scarring.
    However, if the ulcer is superficial and treated promptly and effectively, it may heal without a 
    noticeable scar.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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