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Corneal Ulcer

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A corneal ulcer is a sore on your cornea.

There are several causes, but infection is usually the problem in most cases.

Marshfield Clinic Eye Care Specialists diagnose and treat all types ​of eye conditions and diseases.

The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It is a clear, strong layer on the front of your eye. It helps protect your eye from dirt and germs. It also helps control how light enters your eye. Infection or injury to your cornea can cause an ulcer to form. Corneal ulcers can happen in people of any age. If not treated, a corneal ulcer can lead to loss of eyesight and even blindness.

Types of treatment

Treatment for a corneal ulcer varies depending on the cause. Types of treatment include:

  • Antibiotics, to treat a bacterial infection of the cornea

  • Antiviral medicine, to treat viral infection

  • Antifungal medicine, to treat fungal infection

  • Pain medicine

  • Steroid medicine

You may need to take some of these medicines in the form of eye drops. Your healthcare provider may give you instructions about protecting your eye as it heals. For example, you may need to wear special contact lenses for a while. Do not wear your normal contact lenses unless your healthcare provider says you can.

You may be treated for the cause of your ulcer. This will help to prevent new ulcers. You may be treated for dry eye, vitamin deficiency, or an autoimmune disease.

What happens if you don’t get treated?

If your cornea has damage and scarring, this can harm your eyesight. If not treated right away, a corneal ulcer can lead to severe loss of eyesight. Treating a corneal ulcer right away can lower the risk for problems. If the damage to your cornea is severe, you may need other treatments such as:

  • A special type of contact lens

  • Eye surgery with a laser (phototherapeutic keratectomy)

  • A new cornea (corneal transplantation)

Preventing a corneal ulcer

Not all types of corneal ulcer can be prevented. Make sure you wear protective eyewear when doing any activity that might lead to eye injury. If you have a problem with your eyes, see your eye doctor right away. Treat health conditions that may lead to corneal ulcers.

If you wear contact lenses:

  • Make sure that they fit well.

  • Do not wear them for longer than told to.

  • Clean them exactly as directed.

  • Never reuse lens solution or use homemade lens solution.

  • Do not put your contact lenses in water.

  • Clean, rinse, and air-dry your lens case regularly.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Eye pain

  • Blurred vision

  • Fluid coming from your eye


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Contact us for care

If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

(Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

Do You Know How to Preserve Your Eyesight?

Can you harm your vision by sitting too close to the TV? Why is vitamin A good for your eyes? Who is at risk for cataracts? Find the answers by taking this quiz.

1. Which of these habits harms your vision?
2. Healthcare providers advise people not to look directly at the sun. What is it about sunlight that damages eyes?
3. Getting too little of this vitamin can cause problems with night vision. Which one?
4. Safety experts recommend wearing safety goggles during which of these activities?
5. Which of these diseases is a major cause of blindness among older Americans?
6. Which of the following is true about glaucoma?
7. What causes cataracts?
8. AMD is the most common cause of vision impairment in Americans ages 60 and older. How does it affect eyesight?
9. Research shows people can reduce their risk of AMD and cataracts by eating which of these?
10. A 7-year study found people with AMD slowed progress of the disease by taking which of these nutritional supplements?