Corneal ulcers

An eye or corneal ulcer is a painful sore that develops on the outer surface of your eye. They’re more common in contact lens wearers so proper care of your lenses is essential.

What are the symptoms of corneal ulcers?

  • Feeling of something in your eye
  • Grey or white spot on the cornea
  • Eye inflammation or redness
  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Eye discharge
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light

You may experience symptoms more like an eye infection before you notice the eye ulcer. If you have any of these symptoms, you should visit your optometrist as soon as possible.

What causes a corneal ulcer?

Common causes of corneal ulcers include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Eye injuries or small scratches on the eye
  • Dry eye syndrome

Contact lens wearers are at a higher risk of developing corneal ulcers, especially if they don’t follow hygiene advice, or over-wear their contact lenses. In these cases, bacterial infections from the contact lens or their case are the most common cause of corneal ulcers.

What does a corneal ulcer look like?

In some cases you might feel the symptoms of an eye ulcer, but it may be too small to see yourself. Typically, a corneal ulcer looks like a grey or white spot or patch on the clear cornea at the front of the eye.

Corneal ulcer treatments

If you experience any of these symptoms listed above, you should visit your optometrist, ophthalmologist, or an eye casualty department as soon as possible for advice and treatment.

Treatment for corneal ulcers will usually be with intensive medicated eye drops to treat the bacterial or viral causes. If you are a contact lens wearer, you should take your lenses and case with you when you seek advice or treatment as this will help identify what type of bacteria is causing the eye ulcer. Only once you have been given the all clear, should fresh contact lenses be worn again. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing eye make-up or touching the eye unnecessarily during the treatment period.

If you’re a contact lens wearer, it’s important that you look after your lenses by cleaning them properly, replacing the case regularly, and making sure that you don’t exceed the recommended wearing time. This will help to reduce the chance of you getting a corneal ulcer.

Did you know?

Eye tests are bulk billed to Medicare so there are no out of pocket expenses for you.

Frequently asked questions

Listed on a valid Medicare card without Optometry restrictions.