Corneal Ulcers


What are Corneal Ulcers?



The cornea is the clear, front “windshield” of the eye and serves as the most important structure to focus light and allow us to see clearly. Injuries, diseases and infections of the cornea can result in the “clear cornea” becoming more opaque resulting in reduction of vision. A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the outer surface of the cornea.

Common causes of corneal ulcers:

  • Bacteria

  • Virus

  • Fungus

  • Amoeba


Bacterial Corneal Ulcer





Eye pain

Sensitivity to light

Blurred vision

White spot on the normally clear cornea

Redness on the white of the eye





Your doctor will exam your eye under the slit lamp microscope and can identify if there is a corneal ulcer.  Special stains or dyes may be used during the examination to help diagnose the ulcer.





Treatment will depend on the cause of the corneal ulcer.  Keeping in mind that the cornea is clear, ideally treatment can begin soon in hopes of preserving the clarity and preventing long term loss of vision due to corneal scarring.

Frequently the exact cause of the infection is not known at the initial presentation.  Your doctor may take a culture of the eye to aid in the diagnosis and begin treatment empirically until the culture result is returned from the lab.

Therapy to treat corneal ulcers require close monitoring and your doctor will likely exam the involved eye on a fairly frequent basis until the eye appears to be healing.  Residual scarring of the cornea can reduce best vision and your doctor may discuss options for improving your vision once the corneal ulcer has resolved.