Why Choose a Cornea Specialist?

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Your sight is precious. It gives you the ability to read, see the faces of those you love, and visualize things at your workplace or home. At the heart of your vision is one very important structure: the cornea. The cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, contributes between 65-75% of the eye’s total focusing power and serves as a window to the rest of the eye. This is why choosing the right cornea specialist is so crucial when you have a cornea-related issue; you want them to understand the nuances of the cornea and how they impact your vision.

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is a clear and dome-shaped covering over the front part of the eye. This powerhouse part serves as the armor of the internal structures, protecting them and preventing infection. Additionally, the cornea controls and focuses the amount of light that can enter the eye (this is why it’s seen as a ‘window’). The cornea is comprised of five layers, similar to skin:

  • Epithelium- the outermost, protective layer
  • Bowman’s membrane- the strong second protective layer
  • Stroma- the thickest layer of the cornea. Made up of water, collagen fibers, and other connective tissue
  • Descemet’s membrane- a thin, strong inner layer that is also protective
  • Endothelium- the innermost layer made up of cells that pump excess water out of the cornea (Source)

The cornea also features nerves, which can alert you to potential problems or complications. Corneal nerves play a critical role in the blink reflex, wound healing, and tear production and secretion. These nerves also are sensitive to touch, pain, and temperature.

What Does a Cornea Specialist Do?

A cornea specialist is an ophthalmologist who has additional fellowship training and experience in evaluating and diagnosing corneal diseases. Our cornea specialists at Medical Eye Center, Dr. Matt Oliva, and Dr. John Welling, underwent surgical training for corneal procedures, and are exceptionally qualified to perform corneal transplants. In addition to their professional training, they also have many years of experience helping patients achieve successful vision results. A cornea specialist treats conditions like:

  • Keratoconus: Involves drastic thinning of the cornea, which causes it to bulge and create a cone shape. This causes the patient to experience blurred vision, progressive nearsightedness, and sensitivity to light.
  • Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy: An inherited condition that causes a loss of endothelial cells. Once lost, these cells do not grow back, but spread out to fill the empty spaces. This eventually causes cloudy vision, swelling, and reduced vision.
  • Corneal disease: The general term for any disease related to the cornea. Symptoms often include pain, irritation, light sensitivity, and watery eyes.
  • Corneal trauma: This is the generalized term for injuries to the cornea including abrasions, scratches, and wounds caused by sunlight, chemicals, or foreign bodies.

Some cornea specialists also perform LASIK surgeries, which provide reduced dependency on eyeglasses or contacts to candidates who are able to undergo the procedure. For over 20 years, Medical Eye Center has been the region’s leading provider of LASIK vision correction. Our team of specialists has helped thousands of patients achieve their visual goals and enhance their quality of life.

Lastly, cornea specialists are the providers who perform cornea transplants. A transplant is also known as keratoplasty or a corneal graft, and they are used to improve sight and treat severe injuries or infections. During the surgery, the eye surgeon will remove the damaged and diseased corneal tissue and replace it with healthy tissue from a deceased donor. Surgery can improve quality of life and help restore clearer vision.

What Should I Expect When I See a Corneal Specialist?

Visiting a corneal specialist will be similar to seeing a traditional ophthalmologist, but they will have additional training and tools to get a precise picture of your vision health. They will also be able to properly diagnose any complications that can lead to permanent damage to your eyes. When you first see a specialist, they will do a consultation to determine your symptoms, and concerns you may have, and gather all of the pertinent information. Then, they will create a personalized and custom treatment plan for the specific diagnosis, which can include medication or surgical procedures. Patients may return for follow-up appointments during the course of their treatment to examine the eye and track their progress.

Medical Eye Center is also proud to offer Corneal Cross-Linking, which is an innovative procedure that treats Keratoconus. It works by increasing collagen cross-links and strengthening the cornea. Until recently, there were no approved therapeutic products that treated progressive, weakening corneas. This is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that combines the power of Vitamin B2 eye drops and ultra-violet (UV) light. Cross-linking is an effective way to slow the progression of this sight-threatening disease.

Why Choose Medical Eye Center for Corneal Care?

Our cornea specialists here at Medical Eye Center are leaders in cornea care. The cornea is known as the most vulnerable part of the eye, so seeing deep scarring, potential shaping issues of the cornea or other complications takes an experienced provider. When it comes to preserving your eyesight, keeping your eyes healthy, or choosing an eye provider, your standard can and should be high. Our providers are committed to excellence and compassion and combine innovative approaches with experienced wisdom. Call to schedule a consultation with us today: 541-779-4711.


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