How to Maintain Your Corneal Health

Dr. John Berdahl, MD, met with Gary WeckWerth from KeloLand Living to discuss the cornea and how to maintain your corneal health.

The cornea is the clear lens on your eye on the front portion of the eyeball. “The cornea is where a contact lens would sit when you put your contact lenses in,” Dr. Berdahl said. “It’s no thicker than your credit card, and it’s made up of five layers.”

Within the eye, the cornea:

  • Transmits light to and from your eye
  • Refracts light - bending the light you receive in order to allow you to see the world properly
  • Provides structure to your eyeball within the socket

According to Dr. Berdahl, one of the most common corneal conditions is Fuch’s Dystrophy. Everyone is born with this corneal condition, but it usually doesn’t start to cause problems until your mid-50s. When you have Fuch’s Dystrophy, the endothelial cells (the first layer of cells in your cornea) lose their ability to pump fluid out of the cornea and into the eye. As your eye experiences the lack of fluid, the cornea begins to swell which causes light to scatter. When you experience this light scattering, things like night-driving become very difficult.

Corneal transplants are one way to treat Fuch’s Dystrophy. During a corneal transplant, the layer containing endothelial cells is removed and a new layer with healthy cells is put in its place. This new layer attaches to the back of the cornea, reducing swelling and improving vision.

Some easy ways to tell of potential corneal problems include:

  • Pain or sensitivity to light
  • Reduced or blurry vision
  • Headache, nausea, and fatigue
  • Redness or inflammation of the eye

Dr. Berdahl emphasizes the need to maintain corneal health. “A healthy cornea will be clear and perfectly round which allows light to focus exactly where it needs to for a good, crisp, quality image,” he says. “If the cornea is not perfectly round, it may be the result of astigmatism, scarring, or swelling, causing light to scatter.”

Receiving an eye exam annually from your regular eye doctor is an easy way to maintain your corneal health.