Corneal Opacity

(Corneal Opacification; Cloudy Cornea)


Corneal opacity is a disorder of the cornea. The cornea is the transparent structure on the front of the eyeball. Corneal opacity occurs when the cornea becomes scarred. This stops light from passing through the cornea to the retina and may cause the cornea to appear white or clouded over.


Infection, injury, or swelling of the eye are the most common causes of corneal opacity.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of corneal opacity:
Ocular Herpes
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Corneal opacity may cause:


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
To prepare for a complete eye exam, your doctor may put drops in your eyes to numb them and to dilate your pupils. Your doctor will use a specialized microscope to focus a high-powered beam of light into your eye to examine the cornea and other structures in your eye.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatments vary depending on the most likely cause of the scarring and how severe the scarring is. Treatments may include:
In some cases, scar tissue may be removed surgically. The surgery may be performed using a laser, called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK), if the scarring is close to the corneal surface. In more severe cases, a cornea transplant may be necessary.


To help reduce your chance of corneal opacity:


American Optometric Association

Eye Health—American Academy of Ophthalmology


Canadian Ophthalmological Society

Health Canada


Abelson MD, Sleeper A. Insights on anti-inflammatories: A look at what we know about the efficacy and safety of steroids and NSAIDs. Review of Ophthalmology website. Available at: Accessed November 24, 2015.

Corneal opacity. The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ website. Available at: Accessed November 24, 2015.

Facts about the cornea. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: Updated May 2013. Accessed November 24, 2015.

Pelletier AL, Thomas J, et al. Vision loss in older person. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79(11):963-970.

Rangel TR. Sectoral keratitis and uveitis. Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation website. Available at: Accessed November 24, 2015.

Wong AL, Weissman BA, et al. Bilateral corneal neovascularization and opacification associated with unmonitored contact lens wear. Am J Ophthalmol. 2003;136(5):957-958.

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