A cloudy cornea is a loss of transparency of the cornea.
Corneal opacification; Corneal edema
The cornea is normally a nearly invisible, clear structure covering the iris of the eye. Its two purposes are to transmit and focus the light entering the eye.
Causes of cloudy cornea include:
- Chemical burns to the cornea
- Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (a form of conjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex)
- Infectious diseases
- Poor nutrition
- River blindness (onchocerciasis -- an infection common in parts of Africa)
- Several rare inherited diseases involving abnormal metabolism
- Sjogren syndrome
- Vitamin A deficiency
Clouding leads to varying degrees of vision loss.
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
The doctor will take a medical history and examine your eyes.
Medical history questions may include:
- 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?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Do you have any trouble with your vision?
- If so, what type (blurring, reduced vision, or other) and how much?
Physical examination will include a thorough check of your eyes and vision.
Diagnostic tests may include:
- Biopsy of lid tissue
- Special photographs to measure the cells of the cornea
- Standard eye exam
- Tests for suspected causes
- Ultrasound to measure corneal thickness
After seeing your health care provider:
You may want to add a diagnosis related to cloudy cornea to your personal medical record.
Crouch ER Jr, Crouch ER, Grant T. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 53.
Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby; 2006:chap 70.
Newlin AC, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, Azar DT. Opthalmology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby; 2004:chap 66.
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, 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.