What is the cornea?

The cornea is the outermost protective layer of the eye. It not only fights dirt, germs, other foreign objects but also filters some of the UV light from the sun. The cornea is important to your vision. It plays a key role in determining how well your eye can focus on objects.

How the cornea is structured?

As clear and simple as it may look, the cornea is actually a highly complex tissue. The cornea doesn’t have any blood vessel. It’s nourished by tears and the aqueous humor (a clear fluid in the front chamber of your eye). The cornea has three main layers:

  • Epithelium is the outermost layer. It prevents foreign matter from getting inside and absorbs oxygen and nutrients from tears.
  • Stroma lies behind the epithelium. It’s the middle and also the thickest layer. Due to its water and protein content, the stroma is elastic but solid.
  • Endothelium is in the very back of the stroma. It’s a single cell layer and constantly in contact with the aqueous. The endothelium pumps the excess fluid absorbed by the stroma out. If the endothelium malfunctions, the stroma will be saturated with water and you will get opaque and hazy vision.

What are the symptoms of cornea problems?

Health conditions that affect the cornea are referred to as corneal diseases.

The cornea can take care of itself after most small injuries and infections. But you may experience some symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Hypersensitivity to light

Those symptoms may be a warning sign of more serious conditions. So, if you have them, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

What conditions can affect the cornea?

Keratitis. This is an inflammation of the cornea caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Treatment options include antibiotic or antifungal eyedrops, antiviral drugs, and steroid eyedrops.

Ocular herpes. This is a persistent viral infection. It’s often caused by the herpes simplex virus I (HSV I). The most obvious sign is sores on the cornea. Althouh ocular herpes can’t be cured, it can be kept under control with antiviral drugs or steroid eyedrops.

Shingles. Only those who have had chickenpox get this condition. You may have sores on your cornea. Those sores often heal on their own but antiviral medication and topical steroid eyedrops can be prescribed to relieve inflammation.

Corneal degenerations such as keratoconus, corneal dystrophies, map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy, fuchs’ dystrophy, and lattice dystrophy may cause damage to your cornea. Treatment may vary depending on the particular condition.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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