Cornea Diseases in Rhode Island

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About The Cornea

The cornea is the protective outer layer of the front of the eye. Clear and dome-shaped, it not only helps to keep germs and dirt out of the eye but is also integral to clear, sharp vision. A healthy, properly shaped cornea works together with the eye's lens to focus light on the retina. Vision can become impaired if the shape of the cornea is too round or too oblong or if the cornea becomes clouded. There are many common conditions and issues that can affect the shape and clarity of the cornea, leading to vision impairment and eye health concerns.

At Koch Eye Associates, we have an experienced team of ophthalmologists who are highly trained in diagnosing and treating corneal diseases and disorders. If you suspect you have a corneal issue or have been diagnosed with one, contact one of our offices in Johnston, North Kingstown, Wakefield, Warwick, or Woonsocket, RI. We will perform a comprehensive exam and talk to you about how your vision can be maintained or improved.

Diseases and Disorders

At Koch Eye Associates, our skilled ophthalmologists are able to treat the full gamut of corneal conditions. However, some conditions are more common than others. We regularly see patients for:

Corneal Abrasion – An injury to the superficial layer of the cornea, such as a scratch from dirt, sand, dust, or wood shavings entering the eye

Corneal Ulcer – An open sore on the cornea often caused by infection, injury, overuse of contact lenses, or dehydration

Keratitis – An infectious or noninfectious inflammation within the cornea caused by injury, bacteria, a virus, or a fungus

Keratoconus – A condition that causes the cornea to progressively thin and bulge, changing from its healthy round shape to a cone-like shape, which distorts vision

Corneal Dystrophy – Any one of the more than 20 genetic eye disorders that cause a progressive, abnormal buildup of cloudy material in part of the cornea

Pterygium – A benign, fatty growth on the eye, sometimes containing visible blood vessels, that usually begins on the sclera and can cover the cornea if it becomes large enough


Corneal diseases and disorders do not always produce noticeable symptoms. However, some can cause significant vision impairment, pain, or both. Some of the symptoms of the more common corneal conditions include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Inflamed, red, or swollen eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Migraines
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Corneal conditions can cause a combination of these symptoms or may not cause any at all. If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is very important that you schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Koch Eye Associates at your earliest convenience.


The majority of corneal disorders and diseases are hereditary, meaning they are genetic and “run in the family.” If you are someone with a family history of corneal disease, it is very important to attend regularly scheduled eye exams. Early detection and treatment can be key to maintaining your vision. Corneal problems can also be the result of external factors, such as bacteria, viruses, trauma, or incorrect use of contact lenses.

Treatment Options

Some corneal conditions are not serious and will clear up on their own or with prescription eye drops. However, some are more serious and require more aggressive treatment. Some of these treatments include:

Corneal Cross-Linking
This procedure is done to help the collagen fibers within the cornea bond together more securely, which can slow or stop the cornea from thinning or weakening. This is especially helpful with conditions, such as keratoconus. Corneal cross-linking is the process of creating new cross-links between collagen fibers with riboflavin and ultraviolet light. It is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require any incisions.

Corneal Transplant (DSEK and DSAEK)
DSEK and DSAEK procedures are both partial corneal transplants for patients who have unhealthy endothelial layers. Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK) are essentially the same procedure, but DSAEK involves the automated preparation of the donor corneal tissue. Partial transplants for patients who do not need a full new cornea have the advantages of fewer complications and quicker healing time.

Keratectomy (PTK)
A phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) is considered a minor surgery and is used to treat many types of superficial corneal problems, such as injuries, scars, and corneal dystrophies. It can also be performed to correct or improve surface irregularities or surface opacity. PTK involves the use of an excimer laser to remove some or all of the thin, outermost layer of the cornea.

Comprehensive Care

The Koch Eye Associates team of eye health professionals is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive care for our patients. When you visit one of our Rhode Island offices, we will always start with a thorough examination and use our state-of-the-art diagnostic technology. This ensures that we know exactly what treatment is best for each individual case. Whether you suspect you have a corneal issue or you have already been diagnosed, schedule an appointment at one of our Rhode Island facilities today. We will create a customized treatment plan to protect your vision.

Related Procedures

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.