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Keeping an Eye on Corneal Ulcers

Every month we feature a guest blog post from a member of Virginia Eye Consultants‘ OD team.  This month, Dr. Jessica Schiffbauer shares her tips for keeping your eyes healthy during the summer.

Around this time of year, we see an increased amount of corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers are due to an infection that takes place on the front surface of the eye and results in loss of tissue. Ulcers can cause an array of different symptoms including redness, pain, irritation, and discomfort. Most importantly, some ulcers have the possibility of being sight-threatening depending on location and size. Common causes include different types of bacteria such as Staphylococcus, but it can also be caused by fungi, viruses, or protozoa. In office, we will obtain a culture of the ulcer to determine the exact cause, which will help determine the proper treatment. Corneal ulcers require close follow-ups, usually daily depending on the severity. Typically, the patient is started on topical antibiotics, which may be fortified. If the ulcer is not improving or is severe, it may result in subconjunctival injections, oral antibiotics/antivirals/antifungals and may possibly lead to a corneal transplant in the future.

There are many ways that one can prevent getting a corneal ulcer. As mentioned earlier, the underlying cause is commonly due to bacteria, in which many of these patients are contact lens wearers as well. It is important to practice the proper contact lens hygiene including:

– Wash your hands before handling contact lenses

– Clean and sterilize the contact lens before and after wearing them

– Disposing of contact lens at proper intervals depending on lens
type (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly)

– Avoid sleeping/napping in lenses

– Using new contact lens solution after each rinse or storage time

– Replacing the contact lens case approximately every 3 months or sooner

– Avoid using tap water or your own saliva to clean/rinse lens

– Checking the expiration dates of contact lenses and solution

Other things to remember this summer is to always wear eye protection if working out in the yard or garden. This can range from wearing your own prescription glasses, sunglasses, or safety glasses. One should remember to wear gloves or avoid touching their eyes after working with any organic or vegetative matter. If you think that you may have gotten something into your eye, we highly encourage you to reach out to your eye care provider immediately.

We want you to be able to enjoy all the sights of the summer to the fullest!

– Jessica Schiffbauer, O.D.

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