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Corneal Ulcer

Exams and Tests

Because corneal ulcers are a serious problem, you should see your ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery).
 

  • Your ophthalmologist will be able to detect if you have an ulcer by using a special eye microscope, known as a slit lamp. To make the ulcer easier to see, he or she will put a drop containing the dye fluorescein into your eye.
  • If your ophthalmologist thinks that an infection is responsible for the ulcer, he or she may then get samples of the ulcer to send to the laboratory for identification.

Corneal Ulcer Treatment - Self-Care at Home

  • If you wear contact lenses, remove them immediately.
  • Apply cool compresses to the affected eye.
  • Do not touch or rub your eye with your fingers.
  • Limit spread of infection by washing your hands often and drying them with a clean towel.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin).

Medical Treatment

  • Your ophthalmologist will remove your contact lenses if you are wearing them.

  • Your ophthalmologist will generally not place a patch over your eye if he or she suspects that you have a bacterial infection. Patching creates a warm dark environment that allows bacterial growth.

  • Hospitalization may be required if the ulcer is severe.

Medications

  • Because infection is a common occurrence in corneal ulcers, your ophthalmologist will prescribe antibiotic eyedrops. If the infection appears very large, you may need to use these drops as often as 1 drop an hour.
  • Oral pain medications will be prescribed to control the pain. Pain can also be controlled with special eyedrops that keep your pupil dilated.

Surgery

If the ulcer cannot be controlled with medications or if it threatens to perforate the cornea, you may require an emergency surgical procedure known as corneal transplant.

Next Steps - Follow-up

If you do not need hospitalization, your ophthalmologist will prescribe eyedrops and pain medications for you to take regularly at home. You will need to follow up with your ophthalmologist daily until your ophthalmologist tells you differently.

You should contact your ophthalmologist immediately if you experience symptoms, such as worsening vision, pain, or discharge.

Prevention

Seek medical attention from your ophthalmologist immediately for any eye symptoms. Even seemingly minor injuries to your cornea can lead to an ulcer and have devastating consequences.

 

  • Wear eye protection when exposed to small particles that can enter your eye.
  • If you have dry eyes or if your eyelids do not close completely, use artificial teardrops to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • If you wear contact lenses, be extremely careful about the way you clean and wear your lenses.
    • Always wash your hands before handling the lenses. Never use saliva to lubricate your lenses because your mouth contains bacteria that can harm your cornea.
    • Remove your lenses from your eyes every evening and carefully clean them. Never use tap water to clean the lenses.
    • Never sleep with your contact lenses in your eyes.
    • Store the lenses in disinfecting solutions overnight.
    • Remove your lenses whenever your eyes are irritated and leave them out until your eyes feel better.
    • Regularly clean your contact lens case.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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