• Corneal Ulcer Diagnosis and Treatment

    Written By: David Turbert
    Reviewed By: Elena M Jimenez MD
    Nov. 21, 2018

    Your ophthalmologist will use a special dye called fluorescein (pronounced FLOR-uh-seen) to light up any damage to your cornea. They will then examine your cornea using a special microscope called a slit lamp. The slit-lamp exam will allow your ophthalmologist to see the damage to your cornea and determine if you have a corneal ulcer.

    If your ophthalmologist thinks that an infection has caused your corneal ulcer, they may take a tiny tissue sample. Examination of this sample helps identify and properly treat the infection.

    Corneal ulcer treatment

    Antibiotic, antifungal or antiviral eye drops are the treatments of choice. Sometimes your ophthalmologist will prescribe antifungal tablets. In other cases, they will treat you with an injection of medication near the eye.

    Your ophthalmologist may prescribe steroid or anti-inflammatory eye drops after your infection has improved or is gone. This should reduce swelling and help prevent scarring. Steroid eye drop use is controversial for corneal ulcer. You should only use them under close supervision by your ophthalmologist. It is possible that steroid eye drops may worsen an infection.

    Removal of disease cornea during transplant
    Abnormal cornea is removed.
    Donor cornea placement during transplant
    Donor cornea is sutured in place.

    Your ophthalmologist may prescribe pain medication to take by mouth to reduce pain.

    If your symptoms suddenly change or get worse during treatment, then let your ophthalmologist know right away.

    Symptoms to look for include:

    Surgical treatment. A corneal transplant can replace your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea to restore vision. When the infection is gone and the ulcer is healed after treatment with medication, sometimes a significant scar remains. In this case, a transplant may be done to improve vision. And if corneal ulcers cannot be treated with medication, you may also need corneal transplant surgery to keep your vision.