Maintaining Corneal Health for Good Vision
Many corneal conditions and diseases can threaten the health of your eyes and, ultimately, your vision. Since the cornea is responsible for about two-thirds of your eye’s focusing power, it’s extremely important to see an experienced cornea expert with any corneal concerns.
The cornea is an incredibly important part of your eye. It is the clear, dome-shaped window situated over the front of the eye and is responsible for focusing light into your eye. Because of its position on the front line, the cornea is perhaps the most vulnerable part of the eye.
A corneal specialist is a medical doctor who has additional training in issues related to the cornea. Specifically, our corneal specialist, Dr. Jeanie Paik, is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has undergone focused fellowship training in diseases of the cornea and anterior segment.
There are a number of conditions that affect the cornea and need to be diagnosed and treated by an experienced corneal specialist. Remember, a corneal specialist has the additional training and expertise to diagnose and treat a host of corneal conditions.
Advances in technology have made it possible for us to detect and diagnose many corneal conditions sooner, which can result in earlier intervention and more preservation of sight. Eye Medical Clinic is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of many corneal conditions.
Keratoconus is a condition in which the clear tissue of the cornea thins and bulges outward, causing a progressive decline in vision. The condition commonly begins in puberty and usually progresses into the third and fourth decade.
Corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) is the only treatment to help stop the progression of keratoconus. Most patients with keratoconus require scleral lenses, a large contact lens that rests on the sclera and creates a tear-filled vault over the cornea, for best vision. In the most severe cases, a penetrating keratoplasty (PK), which is a full-thickness corneal transplant, may be needed.
Fuchs’ Dystrophy is a condition where the inner lining of the cornea (endothelium) contains abnormal cells. The function of these cells is to keep the cornea clear. In Fuch’s, fluid can build up in the cornea, causing it to swell and thicken. This can lead to glare, blurred or cloudy vision and eye discomfort. Fuchs’ dystrophy often affects both eyes and can cause vision to gradually worsen over time.
Some nonsurgical treatments, such as eye drops, might help relieve the symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy. But for people with advanced stages of the disease, a corneal transplant surgery offers the best chance of restored vision and improvement of symptoms.
Dr. Paik is trained in the latest procedures for treating advanced Fuchs’ Dystrophy, including:
Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK). This procedure involves replacing the back layer of the cornea with healthy endothelial cells from a donor. The procedure is performed with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.
Ultra-thin Descemet-stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK). This is a partial-thickness cornea transplant.
Bullous Keratopathy is a condition in which the cornea becomes permanently swollen. This occurs because the inner layer of the cornea, the endothelium, has been damaged and is not pumping fluid properly. This can be caused by a number of things, including trauma to the eye and prior surgery.
DMEK or DSEK (see above) are the recommended treatments for bullous keratopathy.
Corneal abrasions (corneal scratches) are the most common type of eye injury. But because your cornea is the protective layer at the front of your eye, an abrasion leaves you at risk for infection and should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Treatment for a corneal abrasion depends on the severity and cause. Minor abrasions sometimes can be treated with topical antibiotics and non-preserved lubricating drops to keep the eye moist and comfortable while the natural healing process takes place.
In more serious cases, scratched corneas are treated with a bandage contact lens. When corneal abrasions become recurrent corneal erosions, more advanced treatment with a superficial keratectomy may be necessary. Dr. Paik is also trained in the placement of Prokera® and AmnioGraft®. These special lenses provide pain relief, reduce scarring and can even speed up healing.
Dry eye is a condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tears or the quality of the tears produced is inadequate to keep the eye properly lubricated. Symptoms include dry, scratchy, irritated eyes. Some people also experience redness and a foreign body sensation (like there is something in your eye).
Your Eye Medical Clinic dry eye specialist will perform diagnostic testing to pinpoint the source of your symptoms. This is an important diagnostic step because chronic dry eye symptoms are similar to those that accompany allergies and even some infections. Thorough testing will help us determine the best course of treatment for you. Treatment can include serum tears, scleral lenses, punctal plugs, medications and Prokera® (amniotic membrane).
A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. Also called surfer’s eye, this condition is more common in people who spend a lot of time in the sun. Although benign, a pterygium can affect your vision and cause irritation.
Pterygiums cannot be treated with glasses, contacts or medication. While treatment is not always necessary, more severe cases must be treated surgically. Dr. Paik can perform sutureless pterygium surgery with an autograft.
Other corneal conditions we treat at Eye Medical Clinic include Salzmann’s nodules, corneal ulcers and conjunctivitis.
Routine eye examinations by your Eye Medical Clinic eye doctor is the best safeguard for maintaining good vision at any stage of life. Schedule an appointment with our cornea specialist today.