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Introduction to Corneal Disorders

By Melvin I. Roat, MD, FACS, Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology; Cornea Service, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; Wills Eye Hospital

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Patient Education

The cornea is subject to infection, noninfectious inflammation, ulceration, mechanical damage, and environmental injury. Infection (keratitis), frequently with secondary conjunctivitis, can be due to viruses, bacteria, Acanthamoeba, or fungi. Ulceration usually represents progression of keratitis. Symptoms that suggest corneal involvement rather than simple conjunctivitis include pain, particularly with exposure to light, and decreased visual acuity. Evaluation of the cornea requires slit-lamp examination and sometimes microbial studies.

Pearls & Pitfalls

  • Do a slit-lamp examination and fluorescein staining if patients have a red eye with pain, foreign body sensation, and/or decreased visual acuity.

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