Corneal scarring refers to an injury of the cornea of the eye that causes opacity and visual impairment. The effects of corneal scarring can vary from blurring to blindness in the eye. Scarring of the cornea can be caused by a number of different things and treatment may depend on an individual’s situation. If the scarring is causing significant visual problems, then a corneal transplant may be required to restore vision.
The cornea is the part of the eye that is transparent to let light into the inner eye. There are two parts of the eye which focus light through refraction — the cornea and the lens. The cornea provides the majority of the focusing capabilities of the eye and is highly important for vision. A scratched cornea will block a certain amount of light depending on the severity of the scratch.
Some of the possible causes of corneal scarring include abrasion and burns. If the cornea has suffered surface abrasion, then this usually is not a permanent problem, although there will be some opacity until the eye injury has healed. Burns, on the other hand, may leave permanent scarring depending on the depth of the burn.
One possible cause of corneal scarring is disease. Often this happens when a disease creates an inflammation in the eye and the body tries to heal by increasing the number of blood vessels in the cornea. Some of the diseases that could potentially cause scarring include keratitis and herpes. The long-term outlook for corneal scarring caused by disease varies depending on the individual and type of disease.
In certain cases, corneal healing cannot take place naturally and the scarring is permanent. When this happens, a decision has to be made as to whether the patient requires surgery. This decision will depend on whether the individual's vision is impaired enough to inhibit daily activities.
A common form of surgery for corneal scarring is a corneal transplant. This procedure removes the scarred cornea and replaces it with a healthy one from a donor. Success of the operation depends on whether the correct donor with a suitable match can be found. The outlook for patients that undergo a corneal transplant is generally good, although in some cases the new corneal tissue may be rejected. If this happens, the patient could then have symptoms such as pain in the eye, blurred vision, and an increased light sensitivity.