What Is Corneal Edema?


Quick Answer

Corneal edema refers to abnormal swelling of the cornea due to fluid accumulation, leading to blurred or clouded vision, as explained by UW Medicine. Its causes include Fuch's dystrophy, the herpes simplex virus and certain infectious agents, and it sometimes develops following cataract surgery.

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Full Answer

Mild cases of corneal edema often do not require treatment, but doctors may prescribe saline eye drops to their patients to help reduce fluid and swelling of the cornea, according to UW Medicine. In advanced cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary. In its early stages, the condition may cause halos around lights or blurred vision. Symptoms are often most noticeable in the morning. More advanced cases may lead to blistering on the epithelium of the cornea, which can cause pain and the sensation of having debris in the eye.

Corneal edema is most common in patients over the age of 50, and some patients are genetically predisposed to the condition, as indicated by UW Medicine. No preventative measures exist as of 2015, and the condition tends to be progressive as blurring becomes more severe over time as the cells along the inner lining of the cornea are unable to regenerate. Some patients experience a rapid development of the condition, while many patients with Fuch's dystrophy only notice a difference in vision after several decades.

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