Corneal opacity | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Corneal opacity

Corneal opacity is a risk in countries such as Papua New Guinea where eye trauma presents at alarmingly high levels.

What is it?

Corneal scarring.The cornea is the normally clear transparent window of the front of the eye, which allows light to pass into the eye and focus so that we can see. The cornea can become cloudy or opacified due to the presence of scar tissue secondary to injury (or after eye surgery) or infection.

Scar tissue prevents light from passing through the cornea, resulting in distortion or even loss of vision.

Who does it affect?

Corneal opacity can affect any age group. It is most prevalent in developing countries where eye injury and vitamin A deficiency are significant causes.

What is the magnitude of the problem?

Corneal opacity is one of the major causes of blindness globally. It is ranked as the fourth cause of global blindness, after cataract, glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration.

Can it be prevented?

Public health prevention programs are the most cost-effective means of decreasing the global burden of blindness due to corneal opacity.

Prevention also relies upon the availability of eye staff to treat eye trauma and identify vitamin deficiencies as soon as possible. This is why we need to continue our training program to ensure that the countries we work in have enough eye staff to properly serve their populations.

How is it treated?

The only currently available treatment is corneal graft surgery. This surgery is highly specialised, and access limited by the availability of donor corneas.

Note: This information is general in nature and is not a substitute for specialist medical advice. Have your eyes checked regularly every two years, even if you have not noticed any symptoms or changes.

What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.

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