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What are the Different Ways to Promote Corneal Healing?

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  • Written By: S. Gadd
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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The cornea is the transparent window that covers the front of the eye. It functions as the outermost lens of the eye, controlling and focusing the entry of light. An additional function of the cornea is to shield the eye from germs and irritating particles, such as dust. The cornea easily deals with minor insults, and healthy cells quickly move to the area of a minor injury before vision is negatively affected; however, some deeper injuries may require active ways to promote corneal healing. In general, there are many different ways to promote corneal healing, and these depend mainly on the type of injury to the cornea.

A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, generally caused by infection, chronic dry eye, or certain traumas. Several different ways to promote corneal healing include removing contact lenses, not allowing anything to touch the eye, and the application of cool compresses to the eye area. In addition, over-the-counter pain medications may help with swelling and discomfort. Medical treatment should usually be sought for a corneal ulcer, and treatment will depend on whether or not the ulcer is infectious. An infectious ulcer will be treated with antibiotics, in the form of a pill or eye drops, whereas a non-infectious ulcer will often be treated with either steroid or anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce the eye’s inflammatory response.

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Corneal abrasions are the most common corneal injury and refer to scrapes or scratches of the corneal surface that are usually caused by contact lenses, flying debris, or some other insult to the eye. Different ways to promote corneal healing in the case of an abrasion include removing contact lenses, gently irrigating the eye with clean water, and the use of over-the-counter artificial tear or lubricant eye drops. Corneal abrasions often heal in 24-48 hours, but some abrasions may require medical care. Treatment is often similar to treatment for corneal ulcers, such as the use of prescription antibiotic or steroid eye drops.

Occasionally, a deep corneal abrasion may cause corneal scarring, which results in fogginess that impairs vision; and in these cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary. A corneal transplant, or corneal graft, involves the removal of the injured cornea and replacing it with corneal tissue from a recently deceased matched donor. It usually takes at least one year to recover fully from a corneal transplant. There are several different ways to promote corneal healing after this procedure, which include refraining from exercise or heavy lifting for at least three weeks after surgery, closely following prescribed medicine regimes, and keeping the area protected by eyeglasses or some type of shield to prevent any accidental knocks to the affected eye.

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