Cornea specialists are highly trained in conducting comprehensive eye exams, including specialized tests to evaluate the health and function of the cornea. They work closely with other eye care professionals, such as optometrists and general ophthalmologists, to provide comprehensive eye care. Depending on the patient’s specific needs, they may also collaborate with other specialists, such as retina specialists, glaucoma specialists, and oculoplastics specialists.
Your eye care specialist can diagnose and treat conditions such as corneal infections, corneal abrasions, corneal dystrophies, corneal ulcers, corneal trauma, corneal ectasia, and corneal degenerations. They also specialize in corneal surgeries, such as corneal transplants, corneal cross-linking, and corneal refractive procedures.
The cornea is a highly organized group of cells and proteins comprising the eye’s outermost layer. The clear, dome-shaped surface plays a vital role in focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye, allowing for clear vision.
The cornea functions like a window and contributes 65-75 percent of the eye’s total focusing power. Common diseases and disorders affecting the cornea are allergies, dry eye, infection, keratoconus, pterygium, and refractive errors.
The cornea is as smooth and clear as glass but is strong and durable. It helps the eye by shielding it from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. The surface shares this protective task with the eyelids, the eye socket, tears, and the white part of the eye or the sclera.
Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, it obtains nourishment from the tears and fluid filling the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain transparent to let in light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can make this process difficult.
The corneal tissue is arranged in five primary layers, each having an important function. For the best vision, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.
These five layers are:
Eye surgeons provide a variety of treatments for corneal diseases, from medications to surgical procedures, depending on the condition and severity. While superficial corneal abrasions often heal on their own, severe abrasions require antibiotic ointment to prevent infection, steroids to decrease inflammation and scarring, and medication to relieve pain and sensitivity to light.
Eye doctors prescribe medications to decrease inflammation in keratitis and antihistamine-decongestant eye drops to alleviate allergy symptoms affecting the eyes. Eye surgeons perform LASIK surgery to correct refractive errors to help patients see more clearly.
Not all treatments are right for everyone. To find out which treatments are best for your cornea problem, consult with your cornea specialist. Your eye care specialist will perform a thorough eye examination to diagnose possible corneal issues and review your treatment options.