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Corneal Ulcers (Keratitis)


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The cornea is a clear membrane covering the colored part of your eye (iris) and pupil. When your cornea gets infected or injured, a corneal ulcer (keratitis) can develop. Contact lens wearers are more likely to get the bacterial infections that cause this condition. When an ulcer first develops, you may think you have something in your eye. If left untreated, eye ulcers can scar your cornea and even cause vision loss.

At Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, our compassionate corneal experts teach patients the RSVP method to alert them to potential corneal problems:

R: increased Redness
S: increased Sensitivity to light
V: decreased Vision
P: increased Pain

Other signs of a corneal ulcer include:

  • Excess tears or other discharge from your eye
  • Trouble opening your eyelid because of pain or irritation

Powered by a university-based health system, our ophthalmologists have the knowledge, resources and treatment technologies to help patients overcome this condition.


Comprehensive Eye Exam - Diagnosis starts with an in-depth eye examination. If needed, additional tests/procedures may be performed.

Slit Lamp Exam - This bright, magnified light source allows your doctor to diagnose the character and extent of your condition and what effect it has on your eye.

Lab Tests - Your physician may order lab work to find out what caused your condition. This information helps your physician develop a treatment plan specific to you.


Antibacterial or Antiviral Eye Drops - When caught early, infections from this condition are treated with prescription eye drops.

Oral Antifungal Medication - In some patients, oral antifungal medications help improve their condition.

Corneal Transplant Surgery - Patients with serious corneal ulcers may require surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the cornea from the donor eye with a special surgical instrument or with laser technology. Using the instrument or laser, the surgeon then removes the damaged cornea from the patient’s eye. Next, the surgeon stitches the new cornea into place.

Though less common, an artificial cornea (keratoprosthesis) may be used in patients with extremely poor vision who have not had success with donor corneas.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Leading-edge Medicine. If your condition does not improve with eye drops or oral medicine, it helps to know that Bascom Palmer is on the forefront of cornea transplant surgery. Knowledge we learn in research trials ensures that you receive state-of-the-art care.

Experience and Expertise. Cornea transplants are a highly specialized procedure, but each year, Bascom Palmer ophthalmologists perform more than 250 transplants. Knowing your doctor has this experience makes you confident your surgery will be done safely and effectively.

Advanced Surgical Laser Technology. To ensure your safety and to improve our treatment techniques, our corneal and external disease experts use advanced surgical lasers for more exact cornea incisions. For patients, this means faster, stronger healing.

Personalized Treatment Plans. No two patients are alike. We fine-tune and personalize corneal transplant surgery for each patient. This helps you achieve your best possible vision results in the safest, most efficient way.

Compassionate Patient Support. Vision problems are stressful. Our team relieves some of your stress by teaching you about your condition and discussing possible solutions. We understand your concerns, answer your questions and share resources that guide you along your journey toward healing.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.