Corneal Ulcer Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Corneal Ulcer Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


At the forefront of the eye is a layer of clear tissue known as the cornea. The cornea acts as a window through which light enters the eye. This section is protected by tears from possible bacterial, viral or fungal infections.

A corneal ulcer is a condition where there is an open wound on the cornea. Generally, this is caused by an infection of the cornea, which is known as keratitis. Minor eye injuries or erosion caused by long-term use of contact lenses can be one of the factors that cause infection of the cornea.

Corneal Ulcer Symptom

Generally, before a corneal ulcer occurs, individuals can actually feel signs and symptoms of infection first. Some of the signs and symptoms of a corneal infection are:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • There is a production of thick white fluid from the eye
  • Pain or burning sensation in the eye
  • Red eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer are:

  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Excess tear production
  • Blurry vision
  • White spot on the cornea
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Stuffy feeling in the eyes
  • Corneal ulcers can appear as gray or white areas or resemble spots on the normally transparent cornea.
  • All signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer can cause discomfort. People with corneal ulcers need immediate treatment to prevent further infection and even blindness.

Corneal Ulcer Reason

The main cause of corneal ulcers is infection of the cornea or keratitis. Some types of keratitis that can occur are:

Acanthamoeba keratitis. This type of infection is most common in contact lens users. This condition is caused by an amoeba infectionAlthough very rare, this infection can cause blindness.

  • Herpes simplex keratitis

Herpes simplex keratitis is a viral infection of the cornea. This viral infection can occur repeatedly in wounds that occur in the cornea. A number of things can cause a flare-up – including stress, overexposure to the sun, or anything else that can weaken the immune system.

  • Fungal keratitis

This type of fungal infection can occur after injury to the cornea from plants or substances from certain plants. Fungal keratitis can also occur in those with a weakened immune system.

Other causes of corneal ulcers can include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Eye injury
  • There is inflammation in the eye
  • Use of unclean contact lenses
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Individuals who use expired contact lenses or wear disposable contact lenses for a long time also have a greater risk of developing a corneal ulcer.


Diagnosis of a corneal ulcer can be determined from a detailed medical interview, direct physical examination of the eye, as well as certain supporting examinations. In some cases of corneal ulcers, the wound can be too small to require a magnifying instrument to see it. But the signs and symptoms can still be felt.

One type of supporting examination to check for a corneal ulcer is a fluorescein eye stain. In this examination, the ophthalmologist may drip orange dye onto a thin sheet of paper known as blotting paper. The surface of the paper will then be placed on the outer layer of the eye.

The doctor will then use a microscope on a slit lamp to shine a purplish light into the eye to see any abnormalities in the cornea. Generally, if there is damage to the cornea, it will appear as a greenish color when exposed to purple light.

In people with corneal ulcers, the treating ophthalmologist will carry out further tests to find the cause. To do this, the doctor may place a local anesthetic drop on the cornea, then gently remove tissue from the ulcer for further examination. This examination can show the type of disturbance in the ulcer, containing bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Corneal Ulcer Treatment

Once the cause of a corneal ulcer is identified, the doctor may prescribe antibacterial, antiviral, or antifungal treatment to address the root cause.

In addition, if there are signs of inflammation or swelling in the eye, the doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops. During the treatment period, doctors usually ask patients to avoid using contact lenses, using eye cosmetics, consuming certain types of other drugs, and touching or scratching the eyes.


One way to prevent a corneal ulcer is to seek treatment immediately if there are signs and symptoms that lead to an infection in the eye, or immediately after an eye injury occurs.

Some things that also need to be implemented are:

  • Avoid sleeping with contact lenses
  • Always clean and sterilize contact lenses before and after use
  • Rinse the eye to remove the foreign body
  • Wash hands thoroughly before touching eyes

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