Overview of Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease 

The cornea is the clear “window” in the front of the eye. This structure must be smooth and transparent in order for light to focus properly into the back of the eye and provide good vision. 

Changes to the structure and clarity of the cornea can interfere with one’s vision. The cornea can be affected by infection, inflammation, allergies, trauma, and genetic conditions. At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, highly trained physicians provide Patients First care to treat all common problems relating to irregularities of the cornea.

What We Treat

The Eye Institute treats the following corneal diseases: 

  • Corneal scarring or swelling: This condition leads to a lack of clarity in the cornea. Therapies are available to reduce the swelling, and the eventual course of treatment is inner-lining treatment or corneal transplantation.
  • Keratoconus: Keratoconus is a degenerative disease of the cornea that leads to gradual loss of its natural shape. Early detection and treatment with corneal cross linking (treatment that makes the chemical bonds in the cornea stronger) can prevent progression of the disease and vision loss. 
  • Corneal infection: Also known as keratitis, corneal infection occurs for many reasons, such as damage by a contact lens that allows bacteria to enter, ocular herpes (eye herpes), or fungal infection. Once an infection develops, this can lead to painful inflammation, which can affect vision.
  • Pterygium: Also known as “surfer’s eye,” a pterygium is an abnormal growth of pink tissue on the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the inner portion of the eyelid and part of the eyeball. In its advanced stages, the growth can extend to the cornea. 
  • Malignant tumor: A rare disease, this tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that form a growth of tissue. When a tumor is cancerous, it is said to be malignant. Tumors can occur on the surface of the cornea.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease

When patients first arrive for an evaluation, a complete eye exam is performed by a team of caregivers that includes a corneal specialist, an optometrist, ophthalmic nurses, and ophthalmic technicians.

Diagnosis of Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease

The patient’s corneal irregularity is measured by examining the patient’s eyes for an eyeglass prescription that produces the clearest image. Caregivers also analyze the shape and thickness of the cornea and evaluate the back of the eye to detect any other causes for decreased vision. Initial evaluations may take up to two hours, as several specialized tests are often required.

Treatment of Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease 

The treatments include the use of specialized contact lenses, laser treatment to smooth the cornea or remove scars, and corneal transplantation.

Patients with damage to the inner surface of the cornea can benefit from endothelial keratoplasty, the most modern form of corneal transplantation. This method replaces only the damaged layer of the cornea using a less invasive surgery, which can help achieve faster recovery of vision for the patient.

In the most severe cases of corneal disease, surgery to reshape, strengthen, or replace some or all of the layers of the cornea may be needed. Highly trained ophthalmologists at the Eye Institute specialize in the treatment of diseases of the cornea and the ocular surface, using advanced methods to perform the most up-to-date surgeries.

As with any eye procedure, patients need to arrange for transportation home after cornea diagnostic testing and treatment. Public transportation and taxi information can be found on Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s How to Get Here page.

Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease Caregivers 

Cornea specialist ophthalmologists at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have undergone fellowship training in cornea and anterior segment diseases. Optometrists working in the Cornea & Ocular Surface Disease service also have extensive experience managing problems with contact lenses and glasses, which can be more challenging for cornea patients. The multidisciplinary team of physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals works together to provide the highest level of patient care.

Caregivers involved in patient care for this service are:

  • Ophthalmologists who are corneal specialists
  • Optometrists
  • Ophthalmic nurses
  • Ophthalmic technicians

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