CORNEAL DISEASES

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About Corneal Infections - The outermost layer of the Cornea is called the epithelium. If it damaged from a foreign body (ie branch, finger, piece of metal) it can break down allowing for bacteria to infect it. An infection of the cornea is called a Keratitis or Ulcer. An Ulcer is painful and if not treated can result in complete loss of vision. Sometimes when an ulcer heals, scarring can occur. Corneal scarring results in a loss of corneal transparency and can require a corneal transplant in order to restore vision. Generally, the deeper the corneal infection, the more severe the symptoms and the greater the potential for loss of vision.

If the doctors at Washington Eye Institute suspects that you have a corneal infection, they will look for certain diagnostic signs to help him decide the best course of treatment for corneal infections. Sometimes this might be an antibiotic eye drop, an antifungal eye drop, an antiviral eye drop and sometimes it might even include a steroid eye drop to reduce the inflammation.
 They may have to culture the infection by sending a swab to the pathologist at the hospital.

Herpes Zoster Keratitis (Shingles) - Herpes Zoster Keratitis is actually caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, called Varicella-Zoster Sometimes the virus can stay dormant in your body and reactive causing an infection of the eye. It is critical to have a ophthalmologist from the Washington Eye Institute diagnose this quickly as the infection can penetrate deeply into the cornea and it can cause scarring. The infection can also result in a loss of corneal sensation, which can be permanent. The doctors at the Washington Eye Institute may prescribe both oral medications and eye drops to try and resolve the infection and prevent serious damage to the cornea. It is possible for anyone who has been exposed to the Varicella-Zoster Virus to get shingles, however it seems to affect those of advanced age and those with weakened or suppressed immune systems many times more often. If you have eye pain and a rash on the face, it could easily be shingles and you should seek treatment from the eye doctors at the Washington Eye Institute immediately.

Ocular Herpes and Herpes Keratitis - Ocular Herpes, or Herpes of the eye is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus and is the most common causes of corneal blindness in the United States today.Patients who have herpes of eye can have severe vision loss from scarring of the cornea. . The recurrence of Herpes Simplex eye infections is significant in that it appears to recur in about 10% of patients with one year, 23% of patients within two years and 63% of patients within 20 years of their initial infection. Sometimes a recurrence can be prompted by sunlight, stress, fevers or an unrelated eye injury.

Our physicians may prescribe both oral medications and eye drops to try and resolve the infection and prevent serious damage from occurring. Regular monitoring of the cornea with appropriate treatment is key to help to reduce the chance of lost vision.

Keratoconus Keratoconus is an eye disease where the cornea becomes very thin. When it does become thin it may bend and fold in an abnormal way that results in a distortion of vision. Additionally, patients may need to have hard contact lens to feel that they have the best vision possible. Approximately 20% of patients who use contact lenses to see well may eventually become contact lens intolerant and need a corneal transplant. There are several surgeons at the Washington Eye Institute that treat keratoconus and perform corneal transplants if needed.

For some patients, the surgeons of Washington Eye Institute may recommend Intacs® Corneal Implants for Keratoconus as an intermediate treatment between contact lenses and a Corneal Transplant. Intacs® prescription inserts are an option between contacts and a Corneal Transplant that may help to stabilize the cornea and improve vision. Intacs® prescription inserts are indicated for use in the correction of nearsightedness and astigmatism for patients with Keratoconus, where contact lenses and glasses are no longer suitable. 

If you are in need of a Intacs® Corneal Implants or a Corneal Transplant for Keratoconus, the ophthalmologist will take all the time necessary to explain the risks, benefits and likelihood of success in your particular situation. Please be assured that all of your questions will be answered so that you can make an educated and informed decision about your treatment options at the Washington Eye Institute.

Dry Eyes - Dry Eyes are one of the most common eye diseases to affect adults in the U.S. Many patients as they get older produce less tears. Women, especially after menopause may have decreased tear production and as a result develop dry eyes. The diagnosis of dry eyes is made by examining the cornea in the office with a special piece of equipment called a slit lamp. Additionally patients may complain of eye discomfort or pain that gets worse as the day progresses. Patients may feel in the morning that their symptoms are not bad but develop red eyes as the day progresses. The treatment for dry eyes is artificial tears initially. Sometimes the tear ducts need to be plugged or cauterized. Finally, surgery can be performed to help close the eyes and reduce the evaporative surface of the eye. Some ophthalmologists recommend Restasis drops to help with the dry eyes. These drops can be used in certain circumstances but are not for every one.

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