The cornea is the clear tissue on the front of the eye and is responsible for two-thirds of the focusing power of the eye. (The lens, where cataracts develop, does the other third of the focusing). Because the cornea does most of the focusing of light, changes in its shape or clarity can significantly impact the degree to which the light is clearly focused.
The cornea and surrounding ocular surface can be the site of numerous diseases, ranging from dry eye to those that require transplantation.
Corneal diseases generally fall into three categories, those that:
It is quite common to have all three combined.
The most common corneal infections are herpes simplex and those caused by contact lenses.
The most common non-traumatic/non-infectious shape problem is called keratoconus. This is a familial, progressive thinning and warping of the cornea, which initially requires rigid contact lenses and ultimately, in many cases, a corneal transplant.
The most common non-infectious/non-traumatic opacity is called Fuchs’ dystrophy. This is also an inherited disease that causes progressive thickening and haziness. Salt drops can be of some benefit, but the condition can also lead to corneal transplantation.
Common diseases that can be purely characterized by pain/discomfort are:
Corneal cross-linking is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that combines the use of ultra-violet (UV) light and riboflavin (vitamin B2) eye drops. Photrexa® Viscous (riboflavin 5’-phosphate in 20% dextran ophthalmic solution), Photrexa® (riboflavin 5’ phosphate ophthalmic solution) and the KXL® system, the first and only therapeutic products for corneal cross-linking which have been FDA approved to treat progressive keratoconus.