It’s important to treat corneal ulcers quickly to avoid permanent scarring or blindness.
A corneal ulcer (keratitis) is an open sore that develops on your cornea.
Most develop due to infection.
- protozoan (parasites)
Corneal ulcer treatment should start within
Let’s look at the most common treatment options for corneal ulcers and when each treatment may be used.
Antibiotic eye drops help treat bacterial infections.
The first-line treatment for bacterial corneal ulcers is often broad-spectrum antibiotics containing fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin or ofloxacin.
Doctors usually swab your eye for microbiological culture so they can determine what specific bacteria is causing your infection and what antibiotic will be most effective. You may be prescribed a different antibiotic when your culture results are ready to better target that specific type of bacteria.
Severe infections that don’t respond to eyedrops may also need antibiotics administered through an IV.
Viruses are a common cause of corneal ulcers and the
Antiviral eye drops are used to treat viral infections. The
Antifungals treat fungal infections. Fungal infections make up about
Some corneal infections are caused by microorganisms called protozoa that live in freshwater and soil. Treatment usually consists of removing the damaged tissue and
Corticosteroid eyedrops can potentially help reduce inflammation and scarring. They’re often administered together with other treatments like antibiotics and antivirals, although their use for infectious corneal ulcers remains controversial.
Corticosteroids have the potential to reduce damage to your cornea caused by your immune system in response to the infection. However, they might also weaken your immune response and increase the severity of the infection.
It’s widely accepted that the use of corticosteroids worsens the outcome of fungal corneal ulcers.
A group of drugs called biologics are a newer treatment option. These drugs are administered through an IV or injection under your skin.
Your eye doctor may prescribe medications taken orally or with eyedrops or topical ointment to reduce your pain. Anesthetic eyedrops may be administered by a medical professional in a clinic during an appointment, but they won’t be prescribed for self-care because ongoing use may delay ulcer healing. Your doctor may ask you to describe your pain to understand whether it’s improving or getting worse.
A corneal transplant involves replacing your cornea with a cornea from a recently deceased donor. A corneal transplant may be performed if you don’t respond to medications. They can cure over
Home remedies may help support medical treatments for corneal ulcers. They shouldn’t be used as a substitute for medical treatment.
You may be able to aid your healing or relieve symptoms by:
Most corneal ulcers heal within a couple of weeks. Ulcers that don’t heal within
You should start noticing at least some improvement in your symptoms about a couple of days after starting treatment. If your symptoms continue to get worse, your doctor may recommend another treatment.
The cornea is very unique. Its transparency comes from the way its internal collagen bundles are organized and kept much drier than other human tissues.
The healthy cornea has no blood vessels, so when ulceration occurs, it’s unable to heal itself like skin and other vascularized tissues. Once treatment succeeds at eliminating the infection or other cause, inflammatory cells will digest the dead cells and other debris.
Nearby healthy surface epithelium (the thin outer layer of the tissue) will slowly migrate and cover the ulcer bed. At the same time, fibroblasts (the cells in connective tissues) within the cornea begin to synthesize new collagen bundles. This new collagen may leave a grayish-white scar.
Once the inflammation has subsided and the epithelial layer is intact, the cornea will continue to remodel itself. As tissue swelling resolves, the affected cornea will regain clarity. Over time, many people will see their small or moderate corneal ulcers disappear. Larger, more complicated ulcers may leave permanent scarring. Additional surgery may be needed to fix this.
Here are some frequently asked questions people have about corneal ulcer treatment.
What is the first-line treatment for corneal ulcers?
Corneal ulcers most often develop from infections. Antimicrobial eye drops are often the first-line treatment.
What is the best treatment for corneal ulcer?
In most cases, the best treatment for corneal ulcers is to target the underlying infection with antimicrobial eye drops. Additional treatments like intravenous drugs or surgery may be needed for serious infections.
Corneal ulcers usually form due to an infection. Most infections are caused by bacteria.
Treatment usually consists of taking eyedrops to address the infection. More serious infections might require surgery or drugs administered through an IV.