Eyes 101: Things You Ought to Know About the Cornea



We use our eyes every day, in almost every daily activity, so we have problems with our eyes, it can make daily activities more challenging. It is important to understand your eyes, their function and potential problems that can occur. Christopher Tortora, M.D. Medical Director of the Hawaiian Eye Center, is an eye expert and is going to share useful information about the eyes, specifically about the cornea.

According to Dr. Tortora, the cornea is the outmost layer of the eye. It covers the front of the eye. It is clear and dome shaped. It is somewhat like the crystal on a watch. You know it’s covering the watch face, but you don’t really see it.

One common problem, that children and adults experience, that can affect the cornea, is conjunctivitis, commonly known as Pink Eye. This is actually a group of diseases that cause redness, swelling, burning, and itching. These symptoms can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, allergy, environmental irritants, contact lens use, eye drops or even eye ointments. Conjunctivitis caused by a virus is the most common form, and is highly contagious. It is also the form of conjunctivitis that affects the cornea. The best treatment for Pink Eye is prevention. You can prevent viral conjunctivitis, like any type of infection, by avoiding direct contact with people who have it, and by washing hands frequently and avoiding touching the face and eyes.

In some cases, viral conjunctivitis causes small white scars on the cornea which can interfere with the vision. Often, eye drops can help when this occurs, but sometimes blurred vision persists despite treatment. Not every case of conjunctivitis will need treatment, however an eye doctor should be consulted at the onset of symptoms.

Another type of infection that affects the cornea is known as a corneal ulcer. This is a serious infection often associated with contact lens use. Corneal ulcers cause severe pain in the eye, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. They require urgent and aggressive treatment with eye drops, sometimes drops being used every hour 24 hours a day. Even so, they can still result in permanent scarring and loss of vision.

Other infections such as an infection with the Herpes Simplex virus, the cause of common cold sores, can affect the cornea. These infections also cause redness and sensitivity of the eyes, and require treatment.

It is important to remember to not touch eyes with dirty hands, to keep contacts lenses clean and wear them according to instructions, and wear protective eye wear when engaging in sports or using power tools in order to prevent accidents, infections or other problems that could affect the vision.

Dr. Tortora, a board certified ophthalmologist, is host of “The Hawaiian Eye Show,” a weekly informational radio program about healthy vision. He and his colleagues at Hawaiian Eye Center are committed to educating the public about the importance of preventative eye care. To learn more about a variety of eye health issues, please call the Hawaiian Eye Center at 621-8488 where “life has never looked better.”