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At Washington Eye Specialists, Dr. Anjali Badami, MD, leads our team in the diagnosis of, and treatment for, the following common corneal diseases and conditions:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dry Eye 
  • Corneal Dystrophy
  • Fuch's Dystrophy
  • Keratoconus
  • Pterygium
  • Corneal Ulcers

Learn more about each condition and the specialized treatment options we offer our patients below.

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear dome-shaped layer at the very front of the eye. It covers the pupil and the colored iris. In a healthy eye, there is a balance between the fluid moving into the cornea and fluid pumping out of the cornea. The cornea serves several important functions for good vision, including:

  • Focusing the light that comes into the eye onto the lens. The lens refocuses that light onto the retina. The light rays are then interpreted by the brain, which allows us to see.
  • Filtering damaging UV light from the sun.
  • Protecting the eye from germs and bacteria.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a common disorder affecting millions of people each year. It is often called “pink eye” because the inflammation makes blood vessels more visible and gives the eye a reddish appearance. Conjunctivitis can often occur because of several different things. These include bacterial or viral infections, allergies, and exposure to strong cleaners and chemical fumes. Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. It can reoccur or infect others without proper hygiene and infection control practices.

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Dry Eye 

Dry eye is an uncomfortable condition that occurs when the eyes do not create enough tears or low-quality tears. It is estimated more than 23 million people over the age of 20 suffer from chronic dry eye and if left untreated, it often becomes so uncomfortable that patients must make lifestyle adjustments. Dry eye can also impact one’s vision and eye health if left untreated.

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Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal dystrophy refers to a group of genetic eye disorders. These occur when abnormal material tends to accumulate in one or more layers of the cornea. They can cause the cornea to lose its transparency, causing loss of vision or blurred vision.

Fuch's Dystrophy

Fuch’s dystrophy is a slowly progressing disease that usually affects both eyes. It can cause vision deterioration over time. Symptoms include glare, blurred or distorted vision, halos, and painful, tiny blisters on the surface of the cornea. Severe cases may need treatment with a corneal transplant.

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Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a progressive condition in which the cornea gradually thins. As the cornea thins, it also develops an abnormal curvature resembling a cone. Keratoconus often affects both eyes. It can cause blurry or double vision, difficulty with distance vision, and sensitivity to light. In most cases, the problem stabilizes with age.

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Pterygium

A pterygium is a pinkish wedge-shaped growth on the cornea, which usually begins near the nose. Although benign (non-cancerous), it can sometimes grow large enough to interfere with vision. Doctors believe pterygium may occur due to excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun.

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Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by infections. Infection can be due to bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Risks for corneal ulcer are contact lens use, trauma, or coming into contact with contaminated substances. Symptoms include decreased vision, redness, drainage, tearing, and light sensitivity. A corneal ulcer can result in vision loss and blindness. Treatment requires early recognition and antibiotic, antifungal or antiviral eye drops depending on the cause. Severe cases may require surgery. 

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Treatment Options for Cornea Conditions

There are a wide variety of treatments for the various types of corneal conditions. These include medicated eye drops, procedures, and surgery. Dr. Anjali Badami and the team at Washington Eye Specialists have extensive knowledge in several state-of-the-art corneal procedures. They include the following:

Pterygium Removal

This surgery removes the growth of the conjunctiva that extends from the corner of the eye onto the cornea. The surgeon replaces the growth with healthy tissue from the patient’s own eye that is either stitched or glued into place. With newer techniques, recovery is fast, and there is a low rate of pterygium recurrence.

ProKera, AmbioDisk, And Aril

ProKera, AmbioDisk, and Aril are types of amniotic membrane tissue used to promote healing of eye surface wounds. They also reduce scarring and inflammation. They can be safely and effectively applied to the cornea at our office.

Corneal Transplant Surgery

If the cornea cannot be healed or repaired with medications or other procedures, you may need a cornea transplant. Depending on the severity of the problem, part or all the diseased cornea is removed. The diseased cornea is then replaced with healthy corneal tissue. The healthy corneal tissue comes from a deceased person who has pledged to donate their organs before death. Donated tissue is tested thoroughly before surgery.

The types of corneal transplant surgery performed at Washington Eye Specialists includes:

  • Penetrating Keratoplasty - this involves removing the entire damaged cornea. The cornea gets replaced with a new, healthy cornea.
  • Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) - this is a partial transplant. DSEK is specifically for patients with damage to the endothelium (innermost layer) of the cornea. The Descemet’s membrane is part of the deep endothelial layer of the cornea. This procedure removes damaged cells from the Descemet’s membrane. After removing damaged cells, they are then replaced with healthy endothelial tissue. It is a less invasive surgery with a faster visual recovery.
  • Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) - this is another type of partial thickness corneal transplant, but uses an even thinner tissue transplant than DSEK to replace only the damaged endothelial layer of the cornea. This technique allows for decreased rejection rates and faster visual recovery. 

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