Merck Manual

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Introduction to Corneal Disorders


Melvin I. Roat

, MD, FACS, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Symptoms that suggest corneal involvement (eg, rather than simple conjunctivitis) include unilateral involvement, pain (foreign body sensation and ache—not just a gritty sensation), particularly with exposure to light (photophobia), and decreased visual acuity.

Corneal disorders include the following:

Evaluation of the cornea requires fluorescein staining and, when available, slit lamp examination, and sometimes microbial studies. Patients with symptoms or evidence of keratitis should be referred to an ophthalmologist.

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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