UT Southwestern Medical Center’s ophthalmologists have
specialized training in identifying and treating cornea disease and other
external eye conditions. We offer advanced treatments, including specialized
medications and laser surgery, based on the latest research for successful
Experienced Care for Cornea and External Eye Diseases
The cornea is the clear, outer layer covering the front of
the eye. It acts as a barrier to protect the eye from foreign objects, helps with
vision by focusing light, and filters ultraviolet rays that enter the eye.
The cornea can usually heal itself after scratches or minor
injuries. However, the cornea and other external eye structures require medical
treatment for more serious injuries, allergies, inflammation, infections, corneal
dystrophies, and a wide range of other conditions.
At UT Southwestern, our eye specialists perform thousands of
outpatient surgeries each year, including cornea transplants and other
procedures. This level of experience means safe, effective care for our
patients and the best possible outcomes.
Types of Cornea and External Eye Diseases
Some of the cornea and external eye conditions treated at UT
keratitis: This rare but serious infection in the cornea is most often seen in
people who wear soft contact lenses and who don’t follow care and wear
instructions. Patients initially have eye pain, redness, sensitivity to light,
and blurry vision. If untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss.
tumors and pseudotumors
- Blepharitis: Inflammation
of the eyelid
Sometimes called “pink eye,” conjunctivitis means inflammation of the outer
covering of the white part of the eye, the conjunctiva. It can result from
allergy, irritation, viral infection, or bacterial infection. Each type has its own symptoms and signs. If
an eye is red for more than a day or two, has a lot of discharge, or is painful
or blurry, the patient should be examined.
- Corneal dystrophies:
These are a group of conditions of the cornea. Some are mild changes that a
doctor can see only with a microscope and which don’t cause any problems. Others,
however, can lead to corneal haze or opacities and can affect vision. Many
corneal dystrophies run in families.
lens problems and management of lens-related complications
- Dry eye:
As people age, the eye loses some of its ability to make tears. Because the eye
is designed to work “under water,” inadequate tears can cause blurry vision as
well as irritation. This condition is often treated by using artificial tears,
drops, and ointments. There are also medications available to help the eye to
make more of its own tears, including Restasis and Xiidra
tearing: Often referred to as epiphora, this is a condition in which the
eye tears too much. It can be caused by too much tear production, by inadequate
drainage of the tears from the eyes, or by malposition of the lower eyelids. Generally,
inadequate drainage and malposition of the lids can be surgically corrected.
- Fuchs’ corneal
dystrophy: This condition affects the innermost layer of the cornea, the
endothelium, causing it to lose the ability to keep fluid from soaking into the
cornea. If the endothelium needs to be
replaced, then either DSAEK or DMEK is performed (see below).
keratitis: This inflammation and infection of the cornea can be caused by
either the herpes simplex virus, which causes the common fever blisters, or by
the herpes zoster virus (same as the chicken pox virus) that causes shingles.
Both can result in scarring of the cornea and inflammation inside the eye.
Patients with herpes simplex infection might experience fever blisters, red
eye, blurry vision, and light sensitivity. Patients with herpes zoster might
experience mid-face breakouts with shingles and considerable pain. Patients
should seek care promptly.
to the cornea, including foreign objects lodged in the surface of the eye
Inflammation or infection of the cornea. There are many causes, but symptoms
generally include sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and irritation. This
generally needs evaluation and treatment.
- Keratoconus: In some people, the cornea is weak and tends to
lose its shape easily and over time, becoming cone shaped and resulting in
blurry, out-of-focus vision.
Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea caused by exposure to light.
Exposure can be from welding, too much sun exposure, or overexposure to UV
light, such as from a tanning booth. It generally heals completely but can be
(age-related farsightedness), nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism:
These conditions affect people as they age, especially past age 40. when the
natural lens inside the eye, which is behind the pupil, becomes stiffer and
can’t change shape as easily for either near or far vision. Prescription
glasses are generally the answer.