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Quick Facts

Corneal Inflammation


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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What is corneal inflammation?

Your cornea is the clear layer at the front of your eye. Inflammation is painful irritation. So, corneal inflammation is painful irritation of your cornea.

An Inside Look at the Eye

An Inside Look at the Eye
  • Corneal inflammation makes your eye red and hurt a lot

  • Bright light is painful, and your vision may be blurry

  • Doctors treat corneal inflammation differently depending on the cause

  • You may need antibiotic eye drops or ointment

Bad corneal inflammation can lead to a sore on the cornea (corneal ulcer), which is an emergency because it can lead to blindness.

What causes corneal inflammation?

Causes of corneal inflammation include:

  • Eye infections

  • Chemicals in your eye, including certain eye medicines

  • Too much ultraviolet light, such as from welding or bright sunlight

  • Wearing your contact lenses too long or not cleaning them properly

What are the symptoms of corneal inflammation?

Symptoms include:

  • Red, watery, bloodshot eyes

  • Pain or a burning, gritty feeling in your eyes

  • Light hurts your eyes

How can doctors tell if I have corneal inflammation?

Doctors diagnose corneal ulcers by looking at your eyes. They'll do a:

  • Full eye exam, including checking your vision

How do doctors treat corneal inflammation?

Your treatment depends on what caused the inflammation:

  • Antibiotic eye drops if you have an infection

  • Artificial tears or lubricating ointment if you have dry eyes

  • Sometimes eye drops to dilate your eyes, which relieves pain

Doctors will also have you try to avoid whatever caused the eye inflammation, such as following safety precautions while welding or using chemicals. If you wear contact lenses, doctors will make sure you're using and cleaning them properly.

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