Corneal Blindness: Causes and Treatment

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Corneal blindness arises from an infection, scarring or clouding of the cornea. The cornea is the clear part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. It accounts for a significant portion of the eye’s optical power, and a distortion of its capabilities may lead to vision loss.

There are various causes of corneal blindness with various treatment options available.

Injury and Abrasion

While the cornea, just like other body parts, is capable of healing from minor abrasions, deep cuts or abrasions present a huge problem and can lead to impaired vision. Deeper cuts mean a longer healing period, and the cornea is exposed to infection.

Fungal and bacterial infection of the cornea can lead to vision loss.

An infection can result in the erosion of the cornea, cornea producing some discharge and reduction in clarity, resulting in impaired vision.

Deterioration of Endothelial Cells

Instances arise where the cornea’s endothelial cells begin to deteriorate for no particular reason. Endothelial cells are crucial for the proper functioning of the endothelium and them weakening poses a great challenge to retaining proper vision.

The endothelium pumps out water from the cornea’s stroma. With weaker endothelial cells, the endothelium’s efficiency drops drastically, and water starts to build up in the cornea, leading to the swelling of the cornea and impairing vision.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to loss of vision. The deficiency normally arises in cases of severe malnutrition. Malnourished children in areas of the world hardly hit with famine have minimal access to food rich in Vitamin A. Children in the developed world eating a balanced diet will consume sufficient Vitamin A and are unlikely to develop vision loss due to a deficiency.

Healthy foods rich in Vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, Swiss chard, Spinach, tropical fruits, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, eggs, broccoli, and tomatoes.


Keratoconus arises from the middle portion of the cornea thinning out. The thinning results in the cornea bulging outwards and alters the curvature of the cornea and distorts its refractive capacity.

A distorted refractive capacity leads to distorted images which means that the individual now cannot see clearly.

Lattice Dystrophy

Lattice dystrophy results from the deposition of lattice-like patterns in the cornea’s stroma. With time, the amount of deposits increase and this leads to the clouding of the stroma, impairing vision.

Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome

Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE) leads to swelling of the cornea, glaucoma, and changes in the iris.

It usually affects one eye and results from the endothelial cells moving to the iris from the cornea. The cornea swells and the result is a distorted iris and pupil.


Vision loss from keratoconus can be corrected using glasses. The glasses are aimed at correcting the effects of the distortion of the cornea’s refractive capacity. If the bulging of the cornea is severe, the individual will have to secure custom contact lenses.

Most cases of corneal blindness developed from infections are preventable. Trachoma which is prevalent in poor areas like some parts of the world, accounts for 60 percent of blindness cases of children under the age of 5. This contagious infection could be treated if caught early enough.

The symptoms of trachoma include eye pain, eyelid scarring, inflammation, ingrown eyelashes and clouding of the cornea. Call your doctor if your child experiences these symptoms after traveling to an area where trachoma is prevalent.


For some other cases, laser surgery can also be used to reshape the cornea where its structure has been distorted. The Tej Kohli Corneal Institute in India is one organization that is doing great work in this field.