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Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment: Everything About Corneal Ulcer

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Have you been experiencing red, bloodshot eyes with blurred vision recently?

These symptoms may indicate the presence of an eye condition called corneal ulcer.

Corneal ulcers can severely affect eye health and lead to blindness and vision loss.

Therefore, it is essential to treat corneal ulcers. However, to treat this condition, knowing the exact cause is important.

This article will discuss corneal ulcer symptoms, causes, and treatment.

So, let us delve into this medical article to learn everything about corneal ulcers in detail.

What is a Corneal Ulcer

Scientifically known as Keratitis, the corneal ulcer is a condition that affects the front most layer of our eyes called the cornea.

The cornea acts like a window and helps the light to enter our eyes. 

Corneal ulcers are open sores or lesions on the cornea. They are usually caused by infections. 

Although tears protect the cornea from infections, eye injuries or prolonged use of contact lenses can lead to infection, which may cause this eye condition.

It is very common in the United States, affecting 30,000 to 75,000 individuals annually. 

In fact, 12% of corneal transplants are performed due to ulcers.

Timely treatment of this condition can help you avoid corneal transplants. Ophthalmologists can prescribe effective eye drops for corneal ulcers

Visit a nearby eye doctor for the treatment of corneal ulcers.

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  • Symptoms of Corneal Ulcer

    red eyesSource: Signature_images
    red eyes

    Various symptoms can indicate the presence of this eye condition.

    Looking out for these symptoms is essential to diagnose its exact cause.

    Let us take a look at the common symptoms of corneal ulcers.

    Besides these symptoms, there can be various other symptoms that indicate the presence of this condition. Therefore, it is best to visit your eye doctor for more information.

    Watery eye is also a known symptom of corneal ulcer. If you want to learn more about this eye condition, read Watery Eyes: Causes, Treatment, and How to Stop Them.

    Eye pain, red eyes, and swollen eyes might also indicate the presence of other eye conditions. Visit your doctor if you notice such symptoms.

    What Leads to Corneal Ulcers

    The primary cause of corneal ulcers is infection. 

    Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections are common infections that may cause corneal ulcers.

    So, let us proceed and learn about these infections in detail.

    Bacterial Infections

    It is the most common cause of corneal ulcers.

    It is common for contact lens wearers to contract these infections if they fail to clean their lenses or if they wear them while sleeping.

    Common bacteria that may cause bacterial infections are Staphylococcus Aureus, Coagulase-Negative Staphylococcus, and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.

    Viral Infections

    Viruses can also cause this eye condition. The types of viruses that may cause viral infections are herpes zoster and cold sores (herpes simplex).

    Fungal Infections

    These infections may develop after a corneal injury and an infection caused by vegetable or plant matter and may lead to fungal corneal ulcers. 

    Parasitic Infections

    Parasitic infections are also a known cause of corneal ulcers. 

    Acanthamoeba Keratitis is a type of eye infection that may lead to corneal ulcers.

    Acanthamoeba is an amoeba present in freshwater, soil, and air.

    If you wear contacts and clean them with tap water instead of a disinfectant solution, it might cause Acanthamoeba Keratitis, which may lead to corneal ulcers.

    Besides these primary causes, other factors that may cause corneal ulcers are-

    The cause of corneal ulcers may vary in individuals. If you want to find the exact cause of your eye condition, it would be best to consult your eye doctor.

    Like corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions are also an eye condition that may affect the cornea. However, it is different from corneal ulcers. 

    If you want to learn more about the difference between these two conditions, read Corneal Ulcers vs Abrasions: Unveiling Variances in Eye Trauma.

    Risk Factors of Corneal Ulcers

    Decreased Tear Production Source: fixkes
    Man suffering from dry eyes

    The common risk factors that might cause corneal ulcers include- 

    • Individuals who wear contact lenses or sleep with contact lenses
    • Having dry eyes
    • Have or have had cold sores or chicken pox
    • People diagnosed with Diabetes
    • Had an eye surgery
    • Use steroid drops 

    Treatment of Corneal Ulcer

    A corneal ulcer is a serious eye condition that can lead to several eye problems, such as Cataracts, total blindness, or Glaucoma if left untreated. 

    Therefore, it is essential to treat this eye condition immediately.

    The treatment of corneal ulcers depends upon its cause. 

    Ophthalmologists may prescribe antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, or antiparasitic medications to treat the exact cause. 

    Additionally, doctors may also prescribe corticosteroid eye drops if you have eye inflammation or swollen eyes.

    However, if these medications are ineffective in treating corneal ulcers, the doctor may recommend undergoing a corneal transplant.

    In corneal transplants, doctors remove and replace the corneal tissue with donor tissue.

    Although a corneal transplant is a safe surgical procedure, it may cause several complications, such as eye infection.

    Therefore, visiting a trusted eye doctor to treat corneal ulcers is advised.

    Knowing about the major treatment options for corneal ulcers can help in an easy understanding of the treatment. 

    A corneal transplant can also cause complications such as swelling of the cornea, Glaucoma, or Cataracts. Therefore, visiting an authorized and trusted eye care center for a corneal transplant is important.

    Can You Prevent Corneal Ulcers

    Try to avoid using contact lensesSource: FabrikaCR_from_Getty_Images
    Avoid sleeping with contact lenses

    Yes, you can prevent corneal ulcers. Following the preventive measures can help avoid corneal ulcers effectively.

    The best way to avoid corneal ulcers is to get immediate medical help if you experience the symptoms of an eye infection or if your eyes are injured.

    The other effective ways that may help to prevent corneal ulcers include-

    • Avoid sleeping with contact lenses
    • Clean and sanitize your contact lenses before and after wearing them
    • Rinsing your eyes to get rid of any dust or dirt
    • Wash your hands before you touch your eyes

    Key Notes

    If you’ve noticed red, bloodshot eyes and blurred vision, it may signal a corneal ulcer. 

    Scientifically termed Keratitis, the corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, often caused by infections.

    Common symptoms of corneal ulcers include eye pain, light sensitivity, and a visible spot on the cornea. 

    Infections are the primary cause of corneal ulcers. Infections such as bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic are primary contributors to corneal ulcers. 

    Certain factors, such as contact lens use and Diabetes, may elevate the risk of this eye condition. 

    Treatment of this eye condition is essential as it may lead to blindness. 

    Treating corneal ulcers involves antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. 

    However, if these medications are ineffective, corneal transplants may help treat corneal ulcers. 

    Corneal transplants can cause several complications, like swollen cornea. Therefore, taking preventive steps can help manage corneal ulcers. 

    Preventive measures include timely medical attention, lens care, and hand hygiene. 

    Understanding corneal ulcers is key to preserving eye health and preventing complications. 

    Consult an eye care professional promptly for personalized guidance.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you go blind from corneal ulcer?

    Yes, a corneal ulcer can lead to blindness. If the corneal ulcer is left untreated, it can lead to complications such as permanent vision loss or blindness.
    It is advised to seek prompt medical attention to prevent severe eye damage.

    Is corneal ulcer permanent?

    No, corneal ulcers are not necessarily permanent. 
    Timely and appropriate treatment can often lead to a full recovery, but the outcome depends on the severity, underlying cause, and how quickly treatment has started.

    Should I go to the hospital for a corneal ulcer?

    Yes, it is important to visit the hospital for immediate medical attention from an eye care professional if you suspect a corneal ulcer. 
    Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and help effectively manage this eye condition.

    Are corneal ulcers painful?

    Yes, corneal ulcers can be painful. Individuals with corneal ulcers often experience eye pain or discomfort, along with other symptoms such as redness, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision. 
    If you suspect a corneal ulcer, seek medical attention promptly.

    Can corneal ulcers spread to the other eye?

    No, corneal ulcers are not contagious and typically don’t spread to the other eye. 
    However, if the underlying cause is infections, it may affect both eyes if proper precautions and treatment are not followed. Therefore, it is important to visit an ophthalmologist if you experience the symptoms of corneal ulcer.

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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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