Corneal Ulcers: Injuries to the Eyes that Can Cause Blindness

Corneal ulcers are usually characterized by white spots or areas in the black part of the eye. This condition should not be underestimated because it can interfere with vision and even cause blindness if not treated immediately.

Corneal ulcers are open sores that appear as white spots or areas on the cornea. The cornea is the clear membrane that lines the black part of the eye and is the only way light can see through. Therefore, damage to the cornea will cause visual disturbances to blindness.

In addition to visual disturbances, corneal ulcers also cause several other symptoms, such as:

  • Eyes feel sore and red
  • The eye feels something is stuck
  • Eyes are more sensitive to light
  • More watery eyes

Various Causes of Corneal Ulcers

The following are some of the factors that can cause a corneal ulcer:

1. Bacterial infection

Most corneal ulcers are caused by bacterial infections. This is common in people who wear contact lenses for too long or who do not take good care of their contact lenses.

Contact lenses that are not replaced can rub against and damage the surface of the cornea. This will make it easier for bacteria to invade the cornea and cause open sores or ulcers.

In addition, bacteria can also accumulate on dirty contact lenses. Some types of bacteria can secrete toxins that can injure the cornea, even when the cornea is intact.

2. Viral infection

In addition to bacterial infections, corneal ulcers can also be caused by viral infections that are not treated immediately or infections that continue to recur for a long time. Viral infections can recur if there are triggers, such as stress, decreased immunity, and exposure to sunlight.

Viruses that can cause corneal ulcers are herpes simplex virus and varicella, the viruses that cause chickenpox and herpes zoster.

3. Fungal infection

Corneal ulcers caused by fungal infections are actually not common. Usually, this occurs in eye injuries by vegetation, such as rice, twigs or tree branches. In addition, fungal infections can also occur in the use of unhygienic contact lenses or in excessive use of steroid eye drops.

4. Eye injury

Corneal ulcers can also occur as a result of injury to the eye. This often occurs in welding workers or building materials who do not wear eye protection while working. Scratches or cuts caused by these injuries are very likely to be infected with bacteria, causing ulcers to form.

Exposure to chemicals can also cause injury to the surface of the cornea and cause corneal ulcers. The chemicals in question can be in the form of liquid glass cleaner, detergent, or food vinegar that you can find everyday.

In addition to the above factors, corneal ulcers can also occur as a complication of dry eyes, vitamin A deficiency, Bell's palsy, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Corneal Ulcer Treatment and Prevention

Treatment of corneal ulcers is tailored to the underlying cause. If the corneal ulcer is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe eye drops that contain antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals. In addition, if the corneal ulcer is accompanied by inflammation or swelling, the doctor will also prescribe steroid eye drops.

In eye injury by a small foreign body, there is a possibility that the object is still left in the eye. If this is found, the doctor will remove the foreign body using a special technique. After that, the patient will be given antibiotic eye drops to prevent bacterial infection due to exposure to the foreign object.

Corneal ulcers are important to prevent. Workers whose eyes are at risk of entering small objects must wear eye protection during work. In addition, contact lens users must also understand the procedures for wearing and cleaning contact lenses properly and correctly. Here are the ways:

  • Always wash your hands before touching the lens.
  • Always clean contact lenses before and after use.
  • Avoid cleaning contact lenses with anything other than the cleaning agent recommended by your doctor, even tap water that looks clean.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses while sleeping.
  • Remove contact lenses if eye irritation occurs and do not wear until the eye has healed.

Corneal ulcers are a serious medical condition. Immediate treatment is needed to avoid complications that lead to blindness. Therefore, if you experience signs or symptoms of a corneal ulcer, immediately consult an ophthalmologist for proper treatment.