Feature Article

Common corneal conditions

Stephanie L Watson



A patient presenting with reduced vision and ocular pain or discomfort may have one of many common corneal conditions. Accurate and prompt diagnosis is needed to prevent permanent visual loss. Management should be tailored to the specific problem and its severity.

Key Points

  • Corneal disorders are important causes of visual loss and ocular pain or discomfort. Dry eye is the most prevalent eye disorder.
  • Corneal ulceration is commonly due to trauma. In such cases, the upper eyelid should be everted during examination to exclude the presence of a hidden foreign body.
  • Patients with labial cold sores, patients on topical corticosteroids and patients with atopic eye disease are at risk for herpes simplex keratitis.
  • Microbial keratitis is an ophthalmological emergency. The diagnosis should always be considered in the contact lens wearer.
  • Avoid topical corticosteroids for the undiagnosed red eye. Arrange review by an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and, if corticosteroids are used, to monitor for side effects.
  • Contact lenses can produce a variety of corneal disorders. A history of contact lens wear should always be sought in a patient presenting with a corneal disorder.