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Corneal Edema

Corneal edema is the overarching term used for swelling of the part of the eye called the cornea. This is the clear, dome shaped outer layer of the front of the eye that protects the sensitive inner structures. It can be caused by many reasons, including infection. 

The problem requires prompt treatment to reverse the cause and prevent any lasting damage to the eye.

Corneal Edema: causes, symptoms, & treatment

  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment


There are many reasons why the cornea might begin to swell. It’s a reasonably common condition that usually affects those over 50. 

It’s often hereditary, so if a parent suffered then there’s a likelihood that you may do as well. Known as Fuch’s Endothelial Dystrophy (FED), it occurs when the inner layer of corneal cells that are responsible for healthy fluid drainage fails to function correctly.

However, there are other underlying causes of corneal edema, including:

  • Eye trauma
  • Irritation to the eye/s from wearing contact lenses
  • Some prescription medications
  • A viral infection (such as herpes)
  • Acute glaucoma
  • Eye surgery, including that for glaucoma, retinal issues, and cataracts


There are a variety of symptoms that go hand-in-hand with corneal edema. Some of these are very similar to other eye conditions (such as cataracts), making it important that diagnosis should be sought from an experienced ophthalmologist.

Symptoms include:

  • Photophobia
  • Seeing halos around a light source
  • Blurred and/or cloudy vision—often worse in the morning
  • Sore, tender eyes
  • Feeling like something is in the eye
  • Blisters on the cornea (in advanced cases)


Mild cases of corneal edema are treated with eye drops or ointment. Sometimes special contact lenses are used to decrease the swelling. If the problem is advanced and is causing significant eyesight problems, then surgery might be necessary. This is known as a corneal transplant.

There are different types of surgical procedures depending on the severity of the corneal damage. These are:

  • Partial-thickness corneal transplant: The removes some of the corneal layers, transplanting them with healthy cells from a donor.
  • Full-thickness corneal transplant: As the name suggests, the complete cornea is removed and replaced.
  • Endothelial keratoplasty: There are two types, known as DSAEK and DMEK. They’re more advanced and less problematic than a full or partial thickness transplant. Only the innermost layer of the cornea is removed and replaced with healthy donor tissue.

With the latter option, the recovery time is much shorter and the risk of tissue rejection is far lower. However, if corneal surgery is considered necessary, your surgeon will discuss this with you and advise as to which will be optimal for your particular condition.

The key to the best eyesight remains—as ever—in preventative actions, rather than waiting until a problem becomes more advanced. Regular eye exams, good eye health practices, and following the instructions of your ophthalmologist concerning your eye care will ensure that you benefit from your best possible vision throughout your whole life.

Get the Ultimate Corneal Edema Treatment at the West Boca Eye Center

Corneal edema is no joke. It requires definitive treatment that targets the root cause to prevent damage to your eyesight.

At the WBEC, our expert ophthalmologist team is one of the best in the country at treating virtually any eye condition—and that includes corneal edema. The key is to catch the problem early, minimizing any risk to the delicate structures within the organ and restoring healthy vision as soon as possible.

If you’re worried about anything regarding the health of your eyes, you owe it to yourself to seek the best treatment. 

Visit to see our wide range of eye health services and call our team today for advice.

Corneal Edema
Corneal Edema

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Specializing in modern cataract surgery.

Located 1/2 miles North of West Boca Medical Center on Glades Road, directly behind Macy's Furniture Gallery.

West Boca Eye Center
9325 Glades Road, Suite 201.
Boca Raton, FL 33434

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