Eyes are an organ that helps humans to enjoy the beauty of what the world can offer. Eyes are constantly exposed to the environment and have direct contacts to insults such as dust, toxic and pollutants in the air. For those unlucky, they might even face traumatic experiences or accidents directly to the eyes such as from some shaCrp objects piercing the eye or abrasion from flying husks in the air. Nevertheless, a person should ask a doctor whenever they feel eye discomfort or sudden vision problems as this may indicate several eye problems including cornea damage.
Is cornea damage common? In short, yes, it is. In fact, 80% cases in the emergency department revolve around cornea, especially corneal abrasion. 3% of these cases are caused by eye trauma. Injury to cornea is common due to its anatomical feature of being in front of the eyes. Cornea is known to be a transparent layer with a dome-shaped, located in the very front of the eyes that protects the structure inside the eye. Cornea is essential to eyesight as it helps the eye focus by controlling the entry of light into the eyes. Simply said, cornea acts as a magnifying glass for human vision.
Cornea damage can be caused by a variety of diseases. These diseases often give almost the same symptoms which are painful eyes, red eyes, eyes become super sensitive towards light, a blurred vision, visual disturbance, headaches, nausea and fatigue. Diseases can both be from conditions that are inherited or their lifestyle. Below is example of diseases associated with cornea damage:
1) Keratitis- Inflammation of the cornea, caused by minor injury or pathogen such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Often in cases of contact lens users.
2) Dry eyes- Insufficient production of tears to lubricate the eyes, causing dryness.
3) Pterygium- A triangular or wedge-shaped growth of the eye’s conjunctiva that extends to the cornea.
4) Corneal dystrophies- A range of diseases causing changes inside the cornea, the cornea losing its transparency due to build up material which end up in clouding. Most common form is the keratoconus. Keratoconus causes the cornea to become thinner, affecting both eyes and is usually can be found in younger adults or teenagers.
5) Herpes zoster ophthalmicus- Corneal complications occur roughly 65% of cases with herpes zoster. The virus causing herpes travels through the nerve fibres and affects the cornea, from abrasion to ulcerations.
6) Steven-Johnson syndrome- An autoimmune disorder of the skin that may affect the eyes. It can cause corneal blisters, erosions or holes.
The above examples are just from common diseases causing corneal damage. There is still a long list of diseases that could result with corneal problems. Since symptoms relating to cornea damage are eerily similar, it can be quite difficult for the public to fully understand what is going on, let alone what treatment should be done. Hence, it is best to get medical advice or get yourself checked when such symptoms emerge especially if it is so sudden or precipitated by events such as accidents. Treatments given are usually dependent on what is causing the damage. This can be from eye drops, ointments for the eye, antiviral medications, antibiotics and even laser surgery. In complicated or severe cases of corneal damage, corneal transplantation or artificial cornea may be considered.
Anyhow, you can still do something to help your corneal become healthy and take steps against preventable damages. Practising good hygiene by proper clean, usage and storing of the contact lenses. Always eat fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants and vitamins for the eyes. Remember to always use protective eyewear especially when working with machines or chemicals, even when playing sport that is susceptible to eye damage. Also read – Dengue Prevention.