The cornea is a clear dome-shaped layer at the very front of the eye. It serves several important functions for good vision:

  • Focusing light to the eye’s lens. The lens refocuses that light onto the retina, which starts the process of changing light into vision.
  • Filtering damaging UV light from the sun.
  • Shielding the eye from germs and bacteria.
Chart Showing the Structure of the Cornea

Dr. Barsam did specialty fellowship training in cornea disease. This makes him experienced in caring for many corneal conditions. Below are some frequently asked questions and their answers.

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common condition that involves inflammation of the inner or outer eyelids. It can cause red or swollen eyelids, burning or itching sensation in the eye, crusting of the eyelids, and other eye discomforts. Sometimes blepharitis can cause the development of small bumps such as a stye or a chalazion. It is usually treated with compresses and “over-the-counter” remedies.

Chart Showing How Blepharitis Affects the Eye

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is often called “pink eye” because inflammation makes blood vessels more visible. This gives the eye a reddish appearance. This eye disorder affects millions of people of all ages each year. The symptoms include itchiness, burning, excessive tearing, blurriness, and eye discharge.

Healthy Eye Compared to One With Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Causes can also be because of allergies and exposure to strong cleaners and chemical fumes. It can be highly contagious and can infect others without good hygiene and infection control practices. Bacterial infections need antibiotic treatment.

What is Dry Eye?

In a healthy eye, there is a balance between the fluid moving into the cornea and fluid pumping out of the cornea. Dry eye is an uncomfortable condition that occurs when the eyes do not create enough tears or do not create the right type of tears or tear film. Treatment varies depending on the many different causes of dry eye.

Chart Showing a Healthy Eye Compared to One With Dry Eye

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive condition that usually affects both eyes. The cornea gradually thins and develops an abnormal curvature that resembles a cone. Keratoconus can cause troubling symptoms such as blurry or double vision, difficulty with distance vision, and sensitivity to light. Your eye doctor may recommend specially fitted contact lenses to correct the corneal distortion caused by keratoconus. In most cases, the problem resolves after a few years.

Chart Showing a Normal Eye Compared to One With Keratoconus

Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking

For more serious cases of keratoconus, Dr. Barsam may recommend an office surgical procedure called Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking. This is a relatively new advanced treatment that is approved by the F.D.A. It is not a complete cure for existing symptoms. The goal of corneal collagen cross-linking is to slow disease progression and prevent any further damage to your eyes.

Chart Showing How Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking Works

The procedure takes about an hour, and numbing eye drops make it painless. The surgeon removes the epithelial layer of the cornea. After removing the epithelial layer, they then apply riboflavin (B2) eye drops to the surface of the eye.

Controlled ultraviolet light is then used to treat the eye. After the treatment, your doctor will apply a special contact lens called a bandage contact to protect the eye. They will then prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops.

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium in an Eye

A pterygium is a pinkish wedge-shaped growth on the cornea, which usually begins near the nose. The cause is not definitively known.

Ophthalmologists believe that it may be caused by excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun. Although a pterygium is non-cancerous, it can sometimes grow large enough to interfere with vision.

How is it Treated?

Pterygium surgery involves removing the growth of the conjunctiva that extends from the corner of the eye onto the cornea. The surgeon replaces the growth with healthy tissue from the patient’s own eye that is either stitched or glued into place.

Newer techniques have made recovery time fast, and recurrence is unlikely.

Have questions about corneal conditions? Schedule an appointment at Barsam Vision Care and Aesthetics Center in Waltham, MA to discuss your options!

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Barsam Vision Care + Aesthetics Center
135 Beaver Street, Suite 309
Waltham, MA 02452


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