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    Cloudy cornea

    Corneal opacification; Corneal edema

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


    The cornea makes up the front wall of the eye. It is normally clear. It helpsfocus the light entering the eye.

    Causes of cloudy cornea include:

    • Inflammation
    • Sensitivity to non-infectious bacteria
    • Ulcers on the eye
    • Infection
    • Keratitis
    • Trachoma
    • River blindness
    • Swelling due to glaucoma, birth injury, or Fuchs' dystrophy
    • Dryness of the eye due to Sjogren syndrome, vitamin A deficiency, and sometimes after LASIK eye surgery
    • Dystrophy (inherited metabolic disease)
    • Keratoconus
    • Injruy to the eye, including chemical burns and welding injury
    • Scarring
    Clouding may affect all or part of the cornea. It lleads to different amounts of vision loss. You may not have any symptoms in the early stages.

    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

    Your doctor or nurse will examine your eyes and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:

    • 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?
    • Do you wear contacts?
    • Do you have any trouble with your vision?
    • If so, what type (blurring, reduced vision, or other) and how much?

    Tests may include:

    • Biopsy of lid tissue
    • Computer mapping of the cornea (corneal topography)
    • Schirmer's test for eye dryness
    • Special photographs to measure the cells of the cornea
    • Standard eye exam
    • Ultrasound to measure corneal thickness


    Abbott RL, Halfpenny CP, Zegans M, Elander TR. Acanthamoeba Keratits. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane’s Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 4;chap 18A.

    Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

    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.


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      A Closer Look

        Talking to your MD

          Self Care

            Tests for Cloudy cornea

              Review Date: 9/18/2012

              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.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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