The first artificial cornea implant in Kentucky to treat a corneal disease was performed by an eye specialist at UofL Physicians. This is one of the many state-of-the-art procedures our eye specialists are capable of performing on patients to provide a better vision for their future.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the eye to protect it from threatening external matter. It is responsible for more than half of the focusing capability of the eye. Damage to the cornea can lead to vision loss, but if detected and treated early, UofL Health – Eye Institute can preserve your remaining vision and prevent further vision loss.

UofL Health – Eye Institute providers are specifically trained and skilled at diagnosing and treating corneal conditions with care and precision. You can be assured that we won’t lose sight of your needs.

Diseases and Conditions

Most corneal conditions affect both eyes equally and some are hereditary. Treatable corneal conditions include:

  • Allergies: Seasonal and/or other specific allergies
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye): Affects the cornea if the condition worsens or goes untreated
  • Interstitial keratitis
  • Ocular herpes viruses (herpes of the eye): Recurring viral infection caused by herpes simplex or shingles (varicella) virus
  • Refractive errors: Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism
  • Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome: Usually occurs in one eye and is caused by corneal endothelial cells moving off the cornea onto the iris. It causes corneal swelling, iris distortion, and can result in glaucoma.
  • Pterygium: A pinkish, triangular-shaped tissue growth on the cornea. Surgery to treat this is only recommended if the tissue covers the pupil causing blurry or lost vision. This is common in adults who live in sunnier environments.
  • Dry eye: Occurs when not enough tears are produced to keep the eye lubricated
  • Corneal ulcers and infections
  • Corneal injury

More than 20 corneal dystrophies, diseases that can cause structural corneal problems, exist. These are often inherited, affect both eyes equally and progress gradually. Common ones include:

  • Keratoconus
  • Map-Dot-Fingerprint dystrophy: A corneal condition that results in abnormal production and turnover of the outermost corneal tissue (epithelium) creating a gap between the epithelium and the rest of the cornea. It usually occurs in both eyes of adults from the age of 40 to 70 and is more prominent in the mornings. The affected cornea will look like a map with dots like continents. This can be treated without the use of surgery.
  • Fuchs’ dystrophy
  • Lattice dystrophy: Accumulation of overlapping protein fibers (amyloid deposits) throughout the middle layer of corneal tissue, which can cause cloudy and reduced vision. Most cases can be treated with prescription eye drops, ointments or eye patching, but more severe cases may require a corneal transplant.
  • Other dystrophies

General Symptoms of Corneal Conditions Include:

  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in the eye
  • Tearing
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea or vomiting (in conjunction with other eye symptoms)

Treatments and Services


  • Medical Therapies: Eye drops, ointments
  • DSEK (Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty): A surgery that replaces only the damaged corneal tissue
  • Lamellar keratoplasty: Replacement of a layer of the cornea
  • PKP (penetrating keratoplasty): Full-thickness corneal transplant 
  • Keratoprosthesis (prosthetic cornea): UofL Physicians - Eye Specialists is experienced at using an artificial cornea for patients who have been shown to reject donor corneas after a transplant.
  • Laser refractive surgery – LASIK and PRK: These procedures treat refractive error in patients and reduce or eliminate the need for correction with glasses or contact lenses.

Learn more about LASIK Eye Surgery

Corneal conditions may be prevented and treated by getting thorough eye exams regularly. Common habits to practice to prevent unnecessary corneal conditions are to avoid sharing the following items:

  • Eye makeup
  • Contact solution
  • Lens cases
  • Eye drops
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