What One Should Know About Corneal Blindness

The cornea is the outermost refractive part of the eye which is nourished by tears and aqueous. Corneal opacity or corneal scar can be caused by infection,  some inflammatory diseases, malnourishment which may lead to vision loss and blindness.

According to WHO, corneal blindness constitutes around 5% of total blindness and it’s the fourth commonest cause after cataract, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

Corneal blindness can occur at any age and the most common causes may be vitamin A deficiency,  post bacterial,  viral or fungal infections, trauma, congenital diseases, sometimes it may occur due to wrong use of topical medications.

Corneal blindness can manifest as decreased vision, redness, ocular pain and glare, and photosensitivity.

Clinical examination by slit lamp and medical history is important in making a diagnosis of corneal opacity. Keratometry and corneal topography aids in diagnosis.

General measures that can be done to prevent corneal blindness is UV protection by wearing protective glasses, reducing harsh conditions that can harm the eye, preventing dry eyes by using lubricating drops, and consulting eye doctors if any symptoms occur.

Corneal blindness can be treated by corneal transplantation/ grafting. Depending upon the area and layer of cornea affected corneal grafting can be of different types.

Eye donation from a deceased person plays a major role in eliminating corneal blindness.  General population should be educated and encouraged for eye donation as there is a major imbalance in need of corneal transplants and eyes donated.

The awareness for the prevention of corneal blindness, treatment and rehabilitation of operated patients, building eye banks, and training ophthalmologists in corneal transplants are needed to fight this problem.

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