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Symptoms and Signs of Corneal Ulcer

Doctor's Notes on Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer (ulcerative keratitis) is an open sore on the cornea, the clear structure overlying the iris, which is the colored part of your eye. Corneal ulcers are commonly caused by contact lens-related bacterial infections. Other causes of corneal ulcers include viruses such as the herpes simplex virus or the varicella virus, or fungal infections.

Symptoms of corneal ulcers include eye redness, eye pain, feeling as if something is in the eye, tearing, pus or thick discharge draining from the eye, blurred vision, sensitivity and pain to bright lights, inflammation of the eyelids (swelling, redness), a white or gray round spot on the cornea visible with the naked eye if the ulcer is large, associated uveitis (inflammation of the ciliary body), and less commonly, changes in the retina (retinopathy) if the ulcerative keratitis has progressed to involve the entire eye (endophthalmitis).

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.