What is a corneal ulcer?

Updated: Aug 05, 2019
  • Author: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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A corneal ulcer is a loss of corneal tissue, often associated with inflammation, and ulcerative keratitis is the general term for the group of disease processes leading to corneal ulceration, as well as the term for the inflammation that accompanies ulceration.

Most corneal ulcers are infectious, including bacterial and viral etiologies. Noninfectious ulcers may be due to chemical burns or autoimmune, toxic, neurotrophic, or other causes.

Because of its potential to permanently impair vision or progress to perforation and an open globe, a corneal ulcer is considered an ophthalmologic emergency.

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