Ocular surface diseases include any dysfunction of structures within the cornea (the clear membrane overlying the coloured part of the eye), conjunctiva (the clear membrane overlying the white of the eye), eyelids and lacrimal glands.
As people are living longer, these disorders are becoming more prevalent, but awareness about them is quite limited.
Ocular surface diseases include conditions such as:
- Pterygium & Eye Surface Cancers: significant UV exposure can cause abnormal growths of tissue on the conjunctiva, causing redness and irritation. These can grow further and progress onto the cornea, which in turn can affect vision.
- Injuries: Small abrasions (scratches) on the cornea that can usually heal on their own. Deeper scratches or other injuries can cause corneal scarring and vision problems.
- Allergies: Allergies to pollen can irritate the eyes and cause allergic conjunctivitis (pink eye). This can make your eyes red, itchy, and watery.
- Keratitis: Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea. Infections related to contact lenses and viruses are some of the most common causes of keratitis.
- Dry eye: Dry eye is a very complex and multifactorial condition where your tears destabilise due to inflammation and/or deficiencies in oil and aqueous (water). This can cause discomfort (grittiness and irritation), red-eye, and even blurred vision.
- Corneal dystrophies: There are many corneal dystrophies, and these can cause cloudy vision due to anomalies in the cornea. These diseases usually run in families.
There are also a number of less common diseases that can affect the cornea including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and iridocorneal endothelial syndrome (ICE).
Ocular surface disorders can severely affect eyesight and quality of life, and in severe cases, can even cause loss of vision.
The cornea is your eye’s clear, protective outer layer. Along with the sclera (the white of your eye), it serves as a barrier against dirt, germs, and other objects that can cause damage to the eye.
The cornea also plays a key role in vision. As light enters your eye, it gets refracted, or bent, by the cornea’s curved shape. This helps to determine how well your eye can focus on objects close-up and far away.
If your cornea is damaged by disease, infection or an injury, the resulting scars can affect your vision. They might block or distort light as it enters your eye.
It may be necessary to see a specialist if you experience any persistent or progressive symptoms with your eyes, such as:
- Sensitivity to light
- Reduced vision
We can check for corneal conditions as part of a comprehensive eye exam. The exam is simple and painless.
We can treat many corneal conditions with prescription eye drops or medications. If you have advanced corneal disease, you may need a different treatment, such as but not limited to:
Laser treatment. To treat some corneal disorders, we use a type of laser treatment called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) to reshape the cornea and remove scar tissue, therebymaking vision clearer.
Corneal transplant surgery. If we cannot repair the damage to your cornea, we can remove the damaged part and replace it with healthy corneal tissue from a donor.
Artificial cornea. As an alternative to corneal transplant, doctors can replace a damaged cornea with an artificial cornea, called a keratoprosthesis (KPro).