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Cloudy cornea

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Corneal opacification; Corneal edema

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
  • Injury to the eye, including chemical burns and welding injury
  • Scarring
Clouding may affect all or part of the cornea. It leads 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 provider if:

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

Note: You will need to see an ophthalmologist for vision or eye problems. However, your primary provider may also be involved if the problem could be due to a whole-body (systemic) disease.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will examine your eyes and ask about your medical history. The two main questions will be if your vision is affected and if you have seen a spot on the front of your eye.

Other questions may include:

  • When did you first notice this?
  • Does it affect both eyes?
  • Do you have trouble with your vision?
  • Is it constant or intermittent?
  • Do you wear contact lenses?
  • Is there any history of injury to the eye?
  • Has there been any discomfort? If so, is there anything that helps?

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

References

Abbott RL, Zegabs M, Elander TR. Acanthamoeba keratits. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology 2013 edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 4, chap 18A.

Batta P, Wadia HP, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 4.25.

Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 71.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 423.

Review Date:8/20/2016
Reviewed By:Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

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