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 health care 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 health care 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 health care 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, Halfpenny CP, Zegans M, Elander TR. Acanthamoeba Keratits. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 4;chap 18A.

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

      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 Mosby; 2013:chap 71.

      Batta P, Wadia H, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 4.25.