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Corneal Conditions

The cornea is the clear, rounded surface at the front of the eye that helps focus light as it passes through. Conditions affecting the cornea can be caused by changes in shape, inflammation or infection, external damage and progressive diseases. Within the Department of Ophthalmology, we specialize in diagnosing and treating the various conditions affecting the cornea, offering an extensive range of both surgical and corrective treatment options tailored to a patient’s condition.

Symptoms of Corneal Conditions
Symptoms for corneal conditions vary depending on the cause. Your NorthShore ophthalmologist will look for the following:


  • Redness
  • Itching, burning or stinging sensations
  • Watery eyes and/or discharge


  • Pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Redness and Inflammation
  • Tearing
  • Bleeding

Changes in corneal structure or make-up

  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Halos within vision

Screening and Diagnosis of Corneal Conditions
Diagnosis of corneal conditions will begin with a slit lamp exam to observe any external damage or irritation, as well as get a look inside the cornea to identify any abnormal growths or changes in shape. Your ophthalmologist may also use a fluorescein eye stain, a dye that helps detect damage and foreign objects when an ophthalmologist shines light on the eye. A corneal topography, pachymetry or keratometry can provide further details on the shape and size of the cornea.

Common Corneal Conditions
Our team works to diagnose and treat the following conditions:

  • Keratitis – Inflammation caused by a bacteria, fungus or a virus, occurring in those with previous eye injuries or unhygienic contact lenses.
  • Corneal dystrophy – A genetic condition in which protein buildup within the cornea causes vision loss.
  • Keratoconus – Progressive thinning of the cornea, causing distortion in its shape and preventing light from properly passing through the eye, leading to vision problems.
  • Corneal abrasions and lacerations – A scratch on the surface of the cornea which can be caused by contact, foreign objects, previous eye conditions or surgery or poorly fitted contacts. Abrasions are less severe than lacerations.
  • Corneal erosion – A result of a corneal dystrophy, which leads to the outer layer of the cornea detaching, causing pain and vision loss.

Treatment Options for Corneal Conditions
Your NorthShore ophthalmologist will evaluate the severity of your condition to determine the best course of action for treatment and aftercare. Our services include:

  • Eye drops, ointment, antibiotics or contacts to provide lubrication, treat infection and inflammation and prevent friction between the cornea and the eyelid
  • Prescription contacts, glasses or eye patches to protect the eye after surgery, and correct vision changes caused by a distorted cornea
  • Keratectomy (PRK) – A laser procedure used to treat dystrophies and erosions by breaking down abnormal tissue to restore the cornea’s shape.
  • Keratoplasty – Used when corneal damage is severely affecting vision (injury, dystrophies, keratoconus). This is an outpatient procedure done under local anesthetic in which the diseased layer of the cornea is removed and replaced with donor tissue.

For More Information
For more information on conditions affecting the cornea, or to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist, please contact 224.251.2020.