Corneal diseases

Close-up of brown eye

What are corneal diseases?

Corneal diseases are a group of serious conditions in which the cornea may become clouded, distorted or scarred and can even lead to blindness. The cornea is the clear layer on your eyeball which allows the passage of light into the eye, and this is largely responsible for focusing your vision.

The most common corneal diseases are:


Eye diseases are generally degenerative and progressively get worse over time unless treated. This can be in the form of surgical procedures or non-surgical, depending on the corneal disease.


Symptoms can vary between conditions and between individuals. However, seek medical advice if you present with the following:

  • Vision becomes cloudy and/or distorted
  • Vision becomes blurry
  • The cornea has become scarred
  • Eye irritation/pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Red eyes

Medical tests to diagnose corneal diseases

Your eye specialist will perform an eye examination which involves taking your medical history and symptoms, having your eye pressure measured as well as the accuracy of your vision and more. Depending on your symptoms and examination results, your eye specialist may refer you to have one or several of a variety of eye tests, such as a corneal topography (a computerised test that creates a 3D map of the curve of your cornea) and ultrasonography (an ultrasound for your eye).

What are the causes of corneal diseases?

Some corneal diseases, like corneal dystrophies, run in families. The risk of developing corneal diseases can increase with age, eye trauma and exposure to chemicals.

Treatments for corneal diseases

Treatment may involve a surgical procedure, such as laser surgery or corneal transplant. Sometimes, when a suitable donor cornea can’t be found, an artificial cornea may be used in treatment. Non-surgical treatments may be provided such as specific lenses and/or consistent eye tests to monitor the condition. Overall, treatment depends on the condition and on each individual – your specialist will personalise your treatment.

Which type of specialist treats corneal diseases?

Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat corneal diseases.

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