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Closeup of a Cornea

What is the Cornea?

Be Eye Wise and understand what the cornea is. The cornea is a transparent dome-shaped layer at the very front of the eye. It covers the pupil and the colored iris. Usually, there is a balance between the fluid moving into the cornea and fluid pumping out of the cornea.

What is the Function of the Cornea within the Eye?

  • It focuses light on the eye’s lens. The lens refocuses that light onto the retina, which starts the process of changing light into vision.
  • The cornea also filters damaging UV light from the sun.
  • This outer layer of tissue shields the eye from germs and bacteria.

What Are Some Common Cornea Problems that Northwest Eye Can Treat?

Your eye specialists at Northwest Eye have experience in caring for many corneal diseases and conditions, including:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal Abrasion
  • Corneal Ectasia
  • Dry Eye
  • Fuch’s Dystrophy
  • Keratoconus

Closeup of an Eye With Conjunctivitis

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that affects millions of people each year. Many people refer to it as “pink eye” because the inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a reddish appearance.

Some forms of conjunctivitis can be highly contagious and can recur or infect others without proper infection control practices.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Allergies
  • Exposure to strong cleaning and chemical fumes

Symptoms can vary depending on the cause of conjunctivitis. In addition to reddish eyes, symptoms can include:

  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Feeling that there is something in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Mucus or yellow discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain

It’s essential to see a Northwest Eye specialist and determine what type of conjunctivitis you have and how you can treat it. If it is viral or bacterial, you will need to take careful precautions to avoid infecting others.

  • If you have viral conjunctivitis, symptoms can be relieved with clean, cool washcloths on the eye. Your body will heal the infection.
  • If it’s a case of bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
  • If it’s allergic conjunctivitis, certain eye drops may relieve the itchiness and puffiness.
  • With chemical conjunctivitis, treatment usually involves rinsing the substance out of the eye, followed by eye drops or ointments.

Corneal Abrasion

What is a Corneal Abrasion?

A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the surface of the cornea.

  • Eye pain, which may be intense
  • A feeling that there is something in your eye
  • Excessive eye watering or tearing
  • Eye redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred, hazy vision or loss of vision
  • Accidental impact to the eye, often from fingernails, makeup brushes, or tree branches
  • Foreign matter such as dirt, sawdust, ash, etc. blowing into the eye
  • Improperly fitted or poorly maintained contact lenses
  • Rubbing the eyes too vigorously, especially if you feel like something got caught in your eye
  • Trachoma, a bacterial eye infection

Minor corneal abrasions will usually heal on their own in a few days. In some cases, your eye doctor may recommend eye patching, moisturizing eye drops or ointment, antibiotic eye drops, or steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and lessen the chance of scarring.

Your Northwest Eye doctor will recommend the best course of action to treat your corneal abrasion.

Closeup of an Eye With Keratoconus

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive condition in which the cornea gradually thins and develops an abnormal curvature resembling a cone. The primary symptoms are blurry or double vision, difficulty with distance vision, and light sensitivity.

Keratoconus usually affects both eyes. It can cause permanent vision damage if left untreated.

View Video

Your Northwest Eye doctor may use recommend specially fitted contact lenses to correct the corneal distortion caused by keratoconus.

For more severe cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend a procedure called Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking to halt the progression of Keratoconus.

What is Corneal Cross-Linking?

Corneal Cross-Linking is an in-office procedure that Dr. John Berestka performs at Northwest Eye to treat both keratoconus and post-LASIK corneal ectasia. It increases the rigidness of the cornea’s surface by inducing additional cross-links between collagen fibers.

Because numbing eye drops are used, it is painless and only takes about an hour. The surgeon gently removes the cornea’s epithelial layer and then applies riboflavin (B2) eye drops to the surface of the eye.

Controlled ultraviolet light is then used to treat the eye. After the treatment, your eye doctor will apply a special contact lens called a bandage contact to protect the eye and prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Corneal Cross-Linking aims to stop the cornea from getting thinner, weaker, and more irregular in shape. It is highly effective in slowing disease progression and stabilizing existing vision.

However, it is crucial to understand that this treatment is not a cure. Corneal Cross-Linking cannot make your cornea a normal shape again.

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a slowly progressing disease of the cornea that causes vision deterioration over time. Symptoms usually appear in people ages 50-60 and affect both eyes.

Fuchs’ dystrophy causes the endothelial cells that make up the cornea’s inner layer to stop working. The cells stop processing water properly, and fluid starts to build up in the eye.

As corneal tissue gradually thickens, the cornea becomes swollen and cloudy and loses its crystal-clear transparency.

The causes of Fuchs’ dystrophy are not known, but it does seem to run in families, suggesting a genetic component.

  • Hazy or cloudy vision
  • Fluctuations in blurry vision, especially in the early morning
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Glare and halos around particular objects (especially light sources)
  • Reduced ability to discern contrast
  • Eye pain

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Fuchs’ dystrophy currently. There are prescription ointments, drops, or bandage contact lenses that can reduce corneal swelling and relieve symptoms and pain.

In very advanced cases, your eye doctor may recommend a corneal transplant.

Put your trust in our Northwest Eye ophthalmologists, who have the experience and skills to treat your corneal disease or condition. Our corneal specialists are experts in modern partial thickness transplants such as DMEK and DSEK. Be Eye Wise and call for an appointment today.


Serving Our Community

With six locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area, Northwest Eye is among the largest eye care providers in the Midwest. Be Eye Wise and schedule a general eye exam or a specific service consultation today. We have optical  at the following offices:  Golden Valley, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, St. Anthony, and Wayzata, MN.

8501 Golden Valley Rd.,
Suite 100 & 200
Golden Valley, MN 55427
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12501 Whitewater Drive, Suite 110
Minnetonka, MN 55343
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12000 Elm Creek Blvd N., Suite 100
Maple Grove, MN 55369
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2601 39th Ave NE., Suite 1
St. Anthony, MN 55421
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250 Central Ave N., Suites 105 & 107, Optical Suite 106
Wayzata, MN 55391
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7125 Tamarack Rd, Suite 150,
Woodbury, MN 55125
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11091 Ulysses St NE., Suite 400
Blaine, MN 55434
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9801 Dupont Ave S., Suite 100
Bloomington, MN 55431
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10709 Wayzata Blvd., Suites 100 & 120
Minnetonka, MN 55305
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