Northside Health Library


Cloudy cornea

Definition

A cloudy cornea is a loss of transparency of the cornea.

Alternative Names

Corneal opacification; Corneal edema

Causes

The cornea is normally a nearly invisible, clear structure covering the iris of the eye. Its two purposes are to transmit and focus the light entering the eye.

Causes of cloudy cornea include:

  • Chemical burns to the cornea
  • Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (a form of conjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex)
  • Infectious diseases
  • Poor nutrition
  • River blindness (onchocerciasis -- an infection common in parts of Africa)
  • Several rare inherited diseases involving abnormal metabolism
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Trachoma
  • Trauma
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Clouding leads to varying degrees of vision loss.

Home Care

Consult your health care provider. There is no appropriate home care.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your health care provider if:

  • The outer surface of the eye appears cloudy
  • You have trouble with your vision

Note: It is appropriate to see an ophthalmologist for vision or eye problems. However, your primary health care provider may also be involved if a whole-body (systemic) disease is suspected.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will examine your eyes and ask questions about your medical history.

Questions may include:

  • Did the cornea become cloudy quickly, or did it develop slowly?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Does it affect both eyes?
  • Is there any history of injury to the eye?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • Do you have any trouble with your vision?
  • If so, what type (blurring, reduced vision, or other) and how much?

Tests may include:

References

Crouch ER Jr, Crouch ER, Grant T. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 53.

Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 69.

Newlin AC, Wadia H, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.25.


Review Date: 8/3/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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