Cornea and External Diseases

The cornea is the crystal clear tissue covering the front of the eye.  It works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina.  At KU Eye John Sutphin, MD is our fellowship-trained, board certified physiciansspecializing in cornea and external disease, as well as anterior segment surgery and refractive (LASIK) surgery


The cornea, with the anterior chamber and lens, refracts light, with the cornea accounting for approximately two-thirds of the eye's total optical power.  Read more about the cornea structure and function.

Corneal Infections: Sometimes the cornea is damaged after a foreign object has entered the tissue, such as from a poke in the eye. At other times, bacteria or fungi from a contaminated contact lens can pass into the cornea.

Blepharitis: This is a common and ongoing condition where the eyelids become inflamed (swollen), with oily particles and bacteria coating the eyelid margin near the base of the eyelashes. Read more
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) is is the term used to describe swelling (inflammation) of the conjunctiva - the thin, filmy membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the white part of your eye (known as the sclera). Often this condition is called "pink eye." Read more
Fungal Keratitis is an infection of the cornea that causes pain, reduced vision, light sensitivity and tearing or discharge from your eye. Resulting from infection from contact lens use or from injury to the eye, fungal keratitis usually develops very quickly, and if left untreated, can cause blindness. The fungus usually responsible for this type of keratitis infection is Fusarium. Read more
Herpes Zoster (Shingles): The virus varicella zoster causes two distinct diseases. The primary infection causes chicken pox, a generally harmless childhood illness. After chicken pox ends, the virus remains in the body, where it can remain inactive (dormant) for decades. As a result of age, illness or medical treatments, the virus can become reactivated. This second encounter is called herpes zoster, or more commonly, shingles, and is characterized by a painful rash. Read more

Corneal Dystrophies: A corneal dystrophy is a condition in which one or more parts of the cornea lose their normal clarity due to a buildup of cloudy material. There are over 20 corneal dystrophies that affect all parts of the cornea. Read more
Fuchs' dystrophy is a progressive disease affecting the cornea. Fuchs' dystrophy reduces the number of specific cells (called endothelial cells) that make up the inner layer of the cornea. Endothelial cells are key to processing water that makes up the corneal cell structure. When the endothelial cells diminish, the cells stop processing water properly and fluid starts to build up. The corneal tissue gradually thickens, causing the cornea to become swollen and cloudy, losing its crystal-clear transparency. Read more 

Keratoconus is an uncommon condition in which the normally round, dome-like cornea (the clear front window of the eye) becomes thin and develops a cone-like bulge. Keratoconus literally means "cone-shaped cornea." Read more
Lattice Dystrophy gets its name from an accumulation of amyloid deposits, or abnormal protein fibers, throughout the middle and anterior stroma. During an eye examination, the doctor sees these deposits in the stroma as clear, comma-shaped overlapping dots and branching filaments, creating a lattice effect. Over time, the lattice lines will grow opaque and involve more of the stroma. They will also gradually converge, giving the cornea a cloudiness that may also reduce vision. Read more
Map-Dot-Fingerprint Dystrophy occurs when the epithelium's basement membrane develops abnormally (the basement membrane serves as the foundation on which the epithelial cells, which absorb nutrients from tears, anchor and organize themselves). When the basement membrane develops abnormally, the epithelial cells cannot properly adhere to it. This, in turn, causes recurrent epithelial erosions, in which the epithelium's outermost layer rises slightly, exposing a small gap between the outermost layer and the rest of the cornea. Read more
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), also called erythema multiforme major, is a disorder of the skin that can also affect the eyes. Read more

Dry Eye - When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye, making the surface of the eye smooth and clear. Without this tear film, good vision would not be possible. Read more

Graft-versus-host Disease (GVHD) is a complication that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant in which the newly transplanted donor cells attack the transplant recipient's body. Read More

Injuries - The cornea copes very well with minor injuries or abrasions. If the highly sensitive cornea is scratched, healthy cells quickly patch the injury before infection occurs and vision is affected. If the scratch penetrates the cornea more deeply, however, the healing takes longer, which can result in more pain, blurred vision, tearing, redness, and extreme light sensitivity. These symptoms require medical treatment.
Chemical Burns - Chemical exposure to any part of the eye or eyelid may result in a chemical eye burn. Although many burns result in only minor discomfort, every chemical exposure or burn should be taken seriously. Permanent damage is possible and can be blinding and life-altering. Read more
Corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the cornea. When a corneal abrasion scars the cornea, it can affect vision. Corneal abrasions can often be prevented by using protective eyewear when performing activities that put your eyes at risk of injury. Read more

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Last modified: Sep 18, 2017