Corneal infections are also called keratitis. This condition can be caused by:
- Damage after a foreign object has penetrated the tissue, such as from a poke in the eye
- Bacteria or fungi from a contaminated contact lens that passes into the cornea
Results of Corneal Infections
- Painful inflammation
- Reduction of visual clarity
- Corneal discharges
- Corneal erosion
- Corneal scarring, which can impair vision and may require a corneal transplant
As a general rule, the deeper the corneal infection, the more severe the symptoms and complications. Corneal infections, although relatively infrequent, are the most serious complications of contact lens use.
Treatment For Corneal Infections
Minor corneal infections are commonly treated with antibacterial eye drops. If the problem is severe, it may require more intensive antibiotic or anti-fungal treatment to eliminate the infection, as well as steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation. Frequent visits to an eye care professional may be necessary for several months to eliminate the problem.
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface of your eye that focuses light. When corneal disease or injury cause clouding or distortion of vision, a corneal transplant may be the best solution.
The first step in a corneal transplant is to find a donor cornea. Currently there is no wait for a donor cornea in the state of Washington through the Northwest Lions Eye Bank. The donated cornea is thoroughly tested for infectious disease and for its suitability for transplantation.
How Corneal Transplants Work
In standard corneal transplant surgery, the entire cornea is removed and replaced with a healthy donor cornea. The new cornea is sewn in place with a very fine suture (finer than a human hair). The suture stays in for months or even years until the eye heals properly (removing the suture is quite simple and can easily be done in our office).
Depending on your situation, your Clarus physician may prefer a new type of corneal transplant, known as Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK). With DSAEK, only the diseased portion of the cornea is removed and replaced with a partial donor cornea. DSAEK has these advantages over traditional corneal transplant surgery:
- Faster visual recovery
- Less chance of astigmatism since there are no sutures
- Eye is much stronger and more resistant to injury
- Surgery time is quicker
Complications of Corneal Transplants
Even with a fairly high success rate, problems can develop, such as:
- Rejection of the new cornea
- Corneal swelling
Warning signs of a problem are decreased vision, increased redness of the eye, increased pain and increased sensitivity to light. If any of these last for more than six hours, you should immediately call your ophthalmologist. Most complications can be successfully treated if medication is administered at the earliest sign of symptoms.
Your Clarus surgeon will use the latest diagnostic procedures to determine which treatment is best for you.
Corneal transplants are performed by Jay Rudd, M.D.
To learn more about corneal transplants, or if you feel you might have a corneal infection, contact us today to schedule an exam.