What is Cornea?
Diseases affecting the cornea are a major cause of blindness all over the world, second only to cataract in overall importance. A range of infectious and inflammatory eye conditions affect the transparency of the cornea and cause corneal blindness. They add a substantial burden to the community in general and healthcare resources in particular all over the world. Further, individuals with corneal blindness are usually of a younger age group compared with those suffering from cataract. Hence, in terms of total blind years, the impact of corneal blindness is greater.
The cornea department at Aravind Eye Hospital includes management of corneal and external eye diseases, anterior segment trauma and ocular surface disorders including dry eye, contact lens related eye problems and refractive surgery services. The clinic works with the Department of Microbiology for management of infectious keratitis. With a largely rural agricultural community, there are a considerable number of patients with corneal ulcers who attend the clinic. The cornea clinic co-manages ocular conditions by appropriate referral to other departments as well as to other medical specialities as required.
Significant conditions managed in this clinic are Infectious keratitis, Keratoconus, Corneal dystrophies and ocular trauma. The first case of Acanthamoeba keratitis in non-contact lens wearers was reported in the cornea clinic at Aravind-Madurai.
Through the Rotary Aravind International Eye Bank, patients with corneal blindness receive corneal transplants almost daily.
Cornea services are available at Aravind – Madurai, Chennai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Pondicherry and Salem.
What Is Refractive Surgery?
If you have a refractive error, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism or presbyopia, refractive surgery is a method for correcting or improving your vision. There are various surgical procedures for correcting or adjusting your eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea, or clear, round dome at the front of your eye. Other procedures involve implanting a lens inside your eye. The most widely performed type of refractive surgery is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), where a laser is used to reshape the cornea.
For people who are nearsighted, certain refractive surgery techniques will reduce the curvature of a cornea that is too steep so that the eye’s focusing power is lessened. Images that are focused in front of the retina, due to a longer eye or steep corneal curve, are pushed closer to or directly onto the retina following surgery.
Farsighted people will have refractive surgery procedures that achieve a steeper cornea to increase the eye’s focusing power. Images that are focused beyond the retina, due to a short eye or flat cornea, will be pulled closer to or directly onto the retina after surgery.
Astigmatism can be corrected with refractive surgery techniques that selectively reshape portions of an irregular cornea to make it smooth and symmetrical. The result is that images focus clearly on the retina rather than being distorted due to light scattering through an irregularly shaped cornea.
Refractive surgery might be a good option for you if you:
- Want to decrease your dependence on glasses or contact lenses;
- Are free of eye disease;
- Accept the inherent risks and potential side effects of the procedure;
- Understand that you could still need glasses or contacts after the procedure to achieve your best vision;
- Have an appropriate refractive error.
There is no universally-accepted, best method for correcting refractive errors. The best option for you should be decided after a thorough examination and discussion with your ophthalmologist. If you are considering refractive surgery, you and your ophthalmologist can discuss your lifestyle and vision needs to determine the most appropriate procedure for you.