The cornea is the clear tissue at the front of the eye. A corneal ulcer is an open sore in the outer layer of the cornea. It is often caused by infection. At first, a corneal ulcer may seem like conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
I Would Like to Learn About:
Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by an infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi, or a parasite.
Acanthamoeba keratitis occurs in contact lens users. It is more likely to happen in people who make their own homemade cleaning solutions.
Fungal keratitis can occur after a corneal injury involving plant material. It may also occur in people with a suppressed immune system.
Herpes simplex keratitis is a serious viral infection. It may cause repeated attacks that are triggered by stress, exposure to sunlight, or any condition that lowers the immune response.
Corneal ulcers or infections may also be caused by:
Eyelids that do not close all the way, such as with Bell palsy
Foreign bodies in the eye
Scratches (abrasions) on the eye surface
Severely dry eyes
Severe allergic eye disease
Various inflammatory disorders
Wearing contact lenses, especially soft contacts that are left in overnight, may cause a corneal ulcer.
Symptoms of infection or ulcers of the cornea include:
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.