Corneal Blindness

Diseases & Conditions

Like any other part of the body, the eye too is susceptible to disease. Here is a list of conditions that can affect our eyes.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Refractive Errors
Retinal Detachment
Corneal Blindness

Corneal Blindness
The cornea is the transparent or clear tissue covering the front of the eye. Vision is lost if this tissue becomes cloudy or opaque.

Causes and Types of Corneal Blindness
In Infancy and Childhood

  • Malnutrition, especially Vitamin A deficiency accounts for most cases of corneal blindness in this age group.
  • Corneal blindness is also common at birth or at a very early age, especially in cases with hereditary diseases affecting the cornea.
  • Eye injury from pointed objects like pencils, compass points, bow and arrows.
  • Infections of the cornea.

In Adults

  • Bacterial, fungal or viral infections can cause ulceration of the cornea, sometimes leading to massive damage.
  • Hereditary diseases of the cornea that appear later in life.
  • Eye injuries, exposure to radiation, welding arcs, and chemicals – especially alkalis, can all lead to corneal blindness.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Redness, tearing and foreign body sensation in the eye.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Pain in the eye, in acute cases.
  • Clouding or greying of the cornea in hereditary diseases.
  • A dry appearance of conjunctiva and cornea in children maybe the sign of Vitamin A deficiency. This may be accompanied by decreased vision at night, and the appearance of small, white, foamy spots on the white surface of the eye. In more severe cases, the cornea just melts away exposing the inner contents of the eye. Even when the ulceration heals, a white scar remains. Vitamin A deficiency affects both eyes, though one may be affected more than the other.
  • Corneal ulcers with fluid discharge, severe pain and decreased vision after an eye infection, are also an important symptom.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

  • Any abnormality in the cornea should be taken seriously and reported to the ophthalmologist.
  • Vitamin A supplements in the early stages of Vitamin A deficiency can prevent corneal blindness.
  • For mild infections of the cornea, use drops or ointments for a few days. In more severe cases of corneal ulceration, you will need to continue the treatment over a prolonged period.
  • In some very severe cases of corneal ulceration, therapeutic corneal grafts are recommended. In this case, the diseased cornea is replaced by a healthy cornea from a donated human eye. The purpose of this graft is to remove the pus from the eye.

Preventive Measures

  • If your eyes are exposed to any chemical, immediately wash your eyes with water.
  • Never try self-medication and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Do not use steroid drops without a prescription from an ophthalmologist. They can worsen certain corneal conditions.