How Does Damage to the Cornea Occur? | Westlake Eye Specialists

How Does Damage to the Cornea Occur?


The cornea is a crucial structure of the eye that enables clear and consistent vision. This clear tissue located at the front of the eye has three layers, each with a distinct purpose.

The outermost layer, the epithelium, is thin but acts as a barrier while also absorbing nutrients from tears. The middle layer, called the stroma, is the thickest.

It is primarily made up of water and proteins, which makes it strong but flexible. The bottom layer or endothelium pulls excess water out of the stroma to prevent it from becoming hazy.

The cornea is an intricately designed part of functional vision. This also makes it prone to problems.

There are many different ways the cornea can suffer damage. Keep reading to learn about injuries and diseases that can affect your cornea and the treatments for each.

Corneal Scarring

The cornea can suffer physical injuries like abrasions, lacerations, or even sunburns. While it can heal from minor injuries without long-term effects, significant trauma can lead to tissue scarring.

Corneal scars not only impede vision but can be incredibly painful. If you have scarring on your cornea, it is best to get it treated so you can regain clear, comfortable eyesight.

How Do You Treat Corneal Scarring?

There are several different methods to treat corneal scarring. In some cases, laser surgery can remove scarring with carefully applied UV light.

In other situations, it may be necessary to get a corneal transplant from a donor. Artificial corneas are also an option to replace a portion of the cornea. These combine donor tissue with artificial material.


Keratoconus is a disease that causes your cornea to become thinner and to swell into a cone shape. As the cornea becomes more cone-shaped, it can severely distort vision. Keratoconus can make it very difficult to see without proper treatment.

How Do You Treat Keratoconus?

Glasses or contacts can help you cope with the visual distortions of keratoconus initially. But, as the disease progresses, you may need to receive a procedure called corneal cross-linking.

Corneal cross-linking strengthens the corneal tissue by creating more connections within it. This added strength helps the eye maintain a more natural shape.

Although it is rare, some patients may need a corneal transplant.

Fuchs Dystrophy

Fuchs dystrophy is a genetic condition where the cornea swells. This swelling is due to a gradual breaking down of cells in the endothelium of the cornea.

As the cells break down, the endothelium can pull less water from the stroma. Eventually, this can cause your cornea to become hazy and even get small blisters on the surface.

How Do You Treat Fuchs Dystrophy?

Common treatments for Fuchs dystrophy include prescription eyedrops and ointments. Another therapy is drying out your eyes using a hairdryer several times a day.

Again, some patients may need to get a full or partial corneal transplant.


If you’ve had chickenpox, then the shingles virus exists in your body, inactive inside your nerves. At some point, the disease may travel down the nerves and infect certain body parts such as your eyes.

Shingles can cause an eye infection called keratitis. Symptoms of keratitis include redness, inflammation, blurred or decreased vision, and pain.

Keratitis is a medical emergency and requires treatment. If you don’t treat it fast enough, it can cause vision loss.

How Do You Treat Shingles?

Shingles in the eye usually disappears on its own. But if it is severe enough, it may require treatment. Common medications to rid your eye of shingles include antibiotics and, in rare situations, antifungal drugs.

The best way to ensure your cornea does not develop any of these conditions is by having regular eye exams. Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX, today to ensure your corneas are healthy!