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 health care provider will examine your eyes and ask questions about your 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?
Tests may include:
Crouch ER Jr, Crouch ER, Grant T. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 53.
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.
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.