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Cloudy cornea
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Cloudy cornea

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Corneal opacification; Corneal edema

A cloudy cornea is a loss of transparency of the cornea.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    The cornea makes up the front wall of the eye. It is normally clear. It helps focus the light entering the eye.

    Causes of cloudy cornea include:

    • Inflammation
    • Sensitivity to non-infectious bacteria
    • Ulcers on the eye
    • Infection
    • Keratitis
    • Trachoma
    • River blindness
    • Swelling due to glaucoma, birth injury, or Fuchs' dystrophy
    • Dryness of the eye due to Sjogren syndrome, vitamin A deficiency, and sometimes after LASIK eye surgery
    • Dystrophy (inherited metabolic disease)
    • Keratoconus
    • Injruy to the eye, including chemical burns and welding injury
    • Scarring
    Clouding may affect all or part of the cornea. It lleads to different amounts of vision loss. You may not have any symptoms in the early stages. 
  • Home Care

    Consult your health care provider. There is no appropriate home care.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Contact your health care provider if:

    • The outer surface of the eye appears cloudy
    • You have trouble with your vision

    Note: It is appropriate to see an ophthalmologist for vision or eye problems. However, your primary health care provider may also be involved if a whole-body (systemic) disease is suspected.

  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit

    Your doctor or nurse will examine your eyes and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:

    • Did the cornea become cloudy quickly, or did it develop slowly?
    • When did you first notice this?
    • Does it affect both eyes?
    • Is there any history of injury to the eye?
    • Do you wear contacts?
    • Do you have any trouble with your vision?
    • If so, what type (blurring, reduced vision, or other) and how much?

    Tests may include:

    • Biopsy of lid tissue
    • Computer mapping of the cornea (corneal topography)
    • Schirmer's test for eye dryness
    • Special photographs to measure the cells of the cornea
    • Standard eye exam
    • Ultrasound to measure corneal thickness

Related Information

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References

Abbott RL, Halfpenny CP, Zegans M, Elander TR. Acanthamoeba Keratits. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane’s Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 4;chap 18A.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 69.

Newlin AC, Wadia H, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.25.

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Review Date: 9/18/2012  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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