From dry, itchy eyes to uncomfortable growths, corneal surface diseases are painful and can cause issues such as light sensitivity and blurred vision.
What are corneal surface diseases and their causes?
Corneal surface diseases cause the surface of the cornea to become irregular, resulting in reduced vision and irritation of the eye and eyelid, often affecting both eyes asymmetrically. Common corneal surface diseases include Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy (ABMD), Salzmann Nodular Degeneration (SND), pinguecula, and pterygium. These diseases can be inherited, as is the case with ABMD, or due to environmental factors or eye trauma.
Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy (ABMD)
Anterior basement membrane dystrophy, sometimes called map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy, is an inherited corneal disease that occurs when the epithelium (the outer layer of the cornea) does not develop properly. This condition makes it easy to scratch or erode the cornea through simple actions like rubbing or even opening the eye.
Salzmann Nodular Degeneration (SND)
Salzmann nodular degeneration is a rare condition in which the eye develops one or more creamy white bumps on top of the usually clear cornea. The disease primarily affects people between 50–60 and is most often found in women. The exact cause is unknown, but SND has been shown to develop after trauma to the eye, including corneal surgery, trachoma, or prolonged use of contact lenses. If left untreated, SND can cause severe vision loss.
Pinguecula and Pterygium
Both pinguecula and pterygium are raised growths on the conjunctiva, which is the clear covering over the white part of the eye. These conditions are caused by a combination of exposure to wind, irritants such as dust, and ultraviolet rays from the sun.
What are common symptoms of corneal surface diseases?
Corneal surface diseases can present with mild-to-severe discomfort or show no symptoms at all.
Symptoms can include:
- General irritation
- Blurred or decreased vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Redness or swelling
- Frequent prescription changes
- White or yellow bumps on the white of the eye
- Dryness, itching, or burning
- Irritation that feels like sand or grit stuck in the eye
- Recurrent corneal erosions that feel like a “scratched” eye
How are these diseases treated?
At Jones Eye Clinic, we identify and treat these common corneal surface diseases and offer ongoing management plans unique to each patient. Our physicians address these conditions individually or as part of a pre-surgery plan for other procedures by removing affected eye membranes.