Poor Contact Lens Hygiene Is The Most Common Cause Of Corneal Ulcers; An Ophthalmologist Explains Your Treatment Options

Portrait of Dr E-Shawn Goh
Dr E-Shawn Goh

January 4th, 2019· 5 min read

Get a quote and compare

I just want to be prepared...

When the word ulcer is mentioned, you'd probably think that it refers to the type that's found in our mouths. However, did you know that there are other types of ulcers you should be wary of?

A corneal ulcer is an erosion or an open sore on the surface of the cornea. A Human reader wanted to find out if corneal ulcers heal by themselves, and the best course of treatment for this condition.

Dr E-Shawn Goh, an experienced ophthalmologist shares his professional advice.

What are corneal ulcers?

corneal ulcer singapore

A close up of the corneal ulcer during an eye examination

A corneal ulcer refers to an inflammatory condition of the cornea. It develops when there is a break in the corneal epithelium (a membranous tissue composed of one or more layers of cells).

structure of cornea

Essentially, a corneal ulcer can be described as an open sore of the cornea.

It's caused primarily by infections

corneal ulcer caused by wearing contact lens

Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or protozoal infections. Corneal ulcers can also be caused by other factors including physical and chemical trauma, corneal over-exposure.

Poor contact lens hygiene is one of the most common causes. [1]

Treatment usually starts off intensive

eye lubricant for corneal erosion singapore

Treatment for corneal ulcers usually starts off more intensive because some ulcers can lead to vision loss and blindness. It tapers off once your infection is brought under control.

Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics as well as antiviral or antifungal medications. [2]

In cases of viral, fungal, or protozoal infections, the treatment duration may be longer.

On rare occasions, surgical procedures may be required

eye surgery for corneal infection

Surgical procedures including debridement (the surgical removal of the surface layer of cells) or corneal transplantations may be suggested by doctors in severe cases.

However, Dr E-Shawn emphasised that this rarely happens.

Immune suppression is used for non-infective causes of corneal ulcers

If your corneal ulcer did not stem from an infection, immune suppression treatment is usually carried out. This includes topical steroids and steroid-sparing agents.

Severe inflammation may require extra measures

corneal ulcer singapore

In other rare cases that include severe inflammatory conditions, systemic immunosuppression may be required.

Your doctor may also implement anti-infective treatments and even surgical procedures that involve segmental corneal transplantation or conjunctival recession surgery alongside treatments for more effective outcomes.

Corneal ulcers almost never resolve themselves

According to Dr E-Shawn, corneal ulcers almost always require treatment. However, there are extremely rare cases where a mild corneal ulcer seen in a patient may resolve itself (but these are very infrequent).

Corneal ulcers are sometimes mistaken for corneal erosion

corneal ulcer singapore

Corneal erosion is a similar condition that causes recurring eye discomfort, redness and pain or irritation. Generally, it requires the frequent application of eye lubricant that helps the corneal epithelium heal.

Often, corneal erosion may go long periods without active treatment but ophthalmologists might need to step in to assist the cornea with re-epithelialisation (when an open wound is covered by epithelial cells) if the condition becomes recurrent.

Always practice good eye hygiene

contact lens hygiene singapore

If left unchecked, corneal ulcers can become serious and might even result in loss of vision or blindness. Always practice good eye hygiene and go for regular checks.

Would you like to ask any related health questions?

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of Human Sessions.

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr E-Shawn Goh and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

Get a free quote

We recommend the best doctors based on your needs