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Corneal Ulcer

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Corneal Ulcer Symptoms

  • Red eye
  • Severe pain
  • Feeling that something is in your eye
  • Tears
  • Pus or thick discharge draining from your eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain when looking at bright lights
  • Swollen eyelids
  • A white round spot on the cornea that is visible with the naked eye if the ulcer is very large

When to Seek Medical Care

  • Change in vision

  • Severe pain

  • Feeling that there is something in your eye

  • Obvious discharge draining from your eye

  • History of scratches to the eye or exposure to chemicals or flying particles

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.

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