What is Cornea?
The cornea is the transparent tissue that covers the front of the eye.
An easy way to locate the cornea is simply to look at the eye in the
mirror. You will notice a clear surface covering the iris (the colored
part of the eye) and pupil. This is the cornea.
The Cornea has a dual function:
It provides a physical
barrier that shields the inside of the eye from germs, dust, and other
It acts as the
eye's outermost lens. When light strikes the cornea, it bends or refracts
the incoming light onto the crystalline lens. The lens then focuses
the light onto the retina, the paper-thin tissue at the back of the
eye on which the image is formed.
The cornea copes very well with minor injuries or abrasions. However,
if the scratch penetrates the cornea more deeply, the healing process
will take longer, resulting in greater pain, blurred vision, tearing,
redness, and extreme sensitivity to light. These symptoms require professional
treatment. Some of the more serious problems that affect the cornea
Microbial Infections (keratitis)
When the cornea is damaged, such as after a foreign object has penetrated
the tissue, bacteria or fungi can pass into the cornea, causing a deep
infection and inflammation. This condition may cause severe pain, reduce
visual clarity, produce a corneal discharge, and perhaps erode the cornea.
As a general rule, the deeper the corneal infection, the more severe
the symptoms and complications.
This term describes a group of inflammatory and often contagious diseases
of the conjunctiva (the protective membrane that lines the eyelids and
covers exposed areas of the sclera, or white of the eye). These diseases
can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, drug allergy, environmental
irritants, or a contact lens product. At its onset, pink eye is usually
painless and does not adversely affect vision. The infection will come
and go in most cases without requiring medical care. But for some forms
of pink eye, such as epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, treatment will be
needed. If treatment is delayed, the infection may worsen and cause
corneal inflammation and a loss of vision. Depending on the type of
pink eye that a person develops, treatment often consists of antibiotics
Herpes of the eye is a recurrent viral infection. Extremely painful,
it is very common in India. It requires regular follow up with the ophthalmologist.
Corneal scarring is by far the biggest cause of
blindness in India. Due to scarring, the cornea looses its transparency
thereby destroying normal vision. These scars can be the result of infections,
chemical burns and injuries. In extreme cases of scarring which has
led to complete visual loss, Ophthalmologist recommend a corneal transplant
operation (commonly known as eye transplant). Known as Penetrating Keratoplasty,
the damaged cornea is replaced by a donor "graft". The surgical process
is extremely complicated.
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