(Corneal Opacification; Cloudy Cornea)
Corneal opacity is scarring of the cornea. This is the clear front layer of the eye.
This problem makes it hard for light to pass through the cornea to the retina. The cornea may also look white or clouded over.
This problem is caused by infection, injury, or swelling of the eye.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Foreign bodies in the eye
- Eye injury, such as from a blow to the eye or a chemical agent
- Wearing contact lenses for a long period of time
- Herpes simplex virus
- Other infections, such as conjunctivitis
- Lack of Vitamin A
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Problems with the cornea that are present from birth
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Problems may be:
- Vision decrease or loss
- Eye pain
- Feeling like there is something in the eye
- Eye redness
- Excess tearing
- Light sensitivity
- An eye that looks cloudy or milky
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Your eyes will be tested. This can be done with:
- A sight test
- A special scope and lamp that look at the back of the eye
- A tool that measures the pressure inside the eye
Treatments depend on the cause of the scarring and how severe it is. Medicines may be used, such as antibiotics, steroids, or both. They may be given as eye drops or taken by mouth.
Some people may need to have the scarring removed. This can be done with laser surgery. People with severe symptoms may need a cornea transplant.
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
- Taking steps to avoid eye injury, such as wearing safety glasses when doing anything that may result in harm to the eye
- Taking proper care of contact lenses
- Seeking medical care for any potential eye infection
American Optometric Association
Eye Health—American Academy of Ophthalmology
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Congenital Corneal Opacities. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available at: https://www.aao.org/topic-detail/congenital-corneal-opacities-europe. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Corneal conditions. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Trachoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/trachoma. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Williams K, Irani Y, et al. Novel therapeutic approaches for corneal disease. Discov Med. 2013 May;15(84):291-299. Available at: http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Keryn-A-Williams/2013/05/24/novel-therapeutic-approaches-for-corneal-disease. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD Last Updated: 3/23/2021