Corneal Disease​

Your cornea is the outermost layer covering the front of your eye. It protects the eye from germs, dust and other foreign particles, and it also serves as the outermost lens of the eye, helping to focus the entry of light inside the eye.

The term corneal disease refers to the variety of disorders that affect the cornea. Some common corneal diseases are:

  • Bacterial, viral or fungal infections: Painful inflammation due to corneal infections, which can lead to corneal scarring in extreme cases. These may be caused due to exposure to contaminated lenses or damage to the cornea by a foreign object.

  • Injury due to abrasions or exposure to foreign chemicals: The cornea may get injured due to scratching or scraping of the corneal surface, exposure to harmful chemical or fluids, problems with contact lenses, exposure to sand or grit, injuries due to ultraviolet light from the sun or sun lamps.

  • Allergies: Burning, itching, tearing, and watery discharge from the eyes due to exposure to allergens.

  • Degeneration of the cornea: Breakdown of the cornea due to genetic or environmental conditions, which affect vision

  • Corneal dystrophies: Build-up of cloudy material in some parts of the cornea, affecting clarity of vision. These are not caused due to outside factors, such as injury or diet, but are mostly inherited.

  • Conjunctivitis: Caused by a number of factors, such as bacterial or viral infection, allergy, environmental irritants or contact lens product, conjunctivitis is the disease of the ‘conjunctiva’, which is the protective membrane lining the eye lids and the exposed white parts of the eye. It can lead to swelling, redness and burning in the eyes.

  • Refractive errors: Vision disorders, such as near-sightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, are the most common vision problems affecting the cornea. These can be corrected with the help of eye glasses or co​ntact lenses.

Besides these, the cornea can also be affected due to other eye conditions, such as dry eyes, glaucoma or eye lid disorders. 

Diseases of the cornea will affect your eye visibly, with symptoms such as redness and cloudiness within the cornea. In general, the following are signs and symptoms of corneal disease:

  • Redness of the eye

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Blurred vision

  • Pain in the eyes

  • Tearing

  • Scarring

  • Swelling of the cornea

  • Watery eyes

  • Feeling that there is something in the eye

  • Swollen eye lids​​

​If you experience the symptoms described above, you must visit an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) working with the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital as these could be signs of a serious corneal disease. If left untreated, corneal disease can also affect your vision. The team of expert ophthalmologists at The Aga Khan University Hospital is internationally trained in the diagnosis and treatment of corneal disease. Discuss your symptoms and concerns at length to help your doctor reach an accurate diagnosis for your condition.​​

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

​Your doctor will take a detailed medical history to find out about a possible cause for your corneal disease. This will help your doctor determine if your cornea has been affected due to allergies, an infection or due to some injury.

An eye exam will also be conducted to examine your affected eye in detail. Special eye drops with dyeing properties will be used to help look closely at your eyes. A slit lamp microscope is also used to examine the cornea and identify signs of tearing. Other specialized tests to check the shape of the cornea, or its thickness may also be requested. 

Blood tests may also be requested in some cases. ​

​The treatment for corneal disease will depend on the cause of your disorder. Your doctor will prescribe some of the following measures to help treat your symptoms:

  • At-home measures to keep your eyes clean

  • Prescription eye drops

  • Eye patches

  • Ointments for the eyes

  • Pain reliever medications

In case the corneal disease has advanced to a serious stage with significant damage to the cornea, a corneal transplant may be suggested. You must discuss the risks and complication of this procedure in detail with your eye doctor before agreeing to the surgery. 

Incidences of corneal disease can be prevented by taking certain precautions. For instance, you must:

  • Not share makeup, contact lenses or their solution or even eye drops with others

  • Wash your hands, especially after being in contact with someone diagnosed for corneal infection

  • Avoid sleeping in contact lenses, even if they are approved for that

  • Wearing safety goggles during high impact sports or when using power tools or chemicals

  • Using sunglasses that screen ultraviolet light when you are out in the sun

  • Visit your doctor immediately if you identify any symptoms of corneal damage, as early detection and treatment help protect your vision and prevent the worsening of your symptoms. ​​

​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.