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Corneal Opacity

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Corneal Opacity

(Corneal Opacification; Cloudy Cornea)


Corneal opacity is scarring of the cornea. The cornea is the clear front layer of the eye.

Scarring makes it hard for light to pass through the cornea to the retina. The cornea may also look white or clouded over.

Treatment can improve outcomes.


Corneal opacity is caused by infection, injury, or swelling of the eye.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of corneal opacity are:

Ocular Herpes.

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Symptoms of corneal opacity may include:

  • Vision decrease or loss
  • Eye pain
  • Feeling like there is something in the eye
  • Eye redness
  • Excess tearing
  • Light sensitivity
  • An eye that looks cloudy or milky


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

The eyes may be tested with:

  • A sight test
  • A special scope and lamp that look at the back of the eye
  • A tool that measures the pressure inside the eye


Treatments depend on the cause of the scarring and how severe it is. Medicines may be used, such as antibiotics, steroids, or both. They may be given as eye drops or taken by mouth.

Some people may need to have the scarring removed. This can be done with laser surgery. People with severe symptoms may need a cornea transplant .


The risk of this problem may be lowered by:

  • Taking steps to avoid eye injury, such as wearing safety glasses—when doing anything that may result in harm to the eye
  • Taking proper care of contact lenses
  • Seeking medical care for any potential eye infection




  • Congenital corneal opacities. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available at: https://www.aao.org/topic-detail/congenital-corneal-opacities-europe.
  • Corneal conditions. National Eye Institute website. Available at:https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/corneal-conditions.
  • Dohlman TH, Yin J, Dana R. Methods for Assessing Corneal Opacity. Semin Ophthalmol. 2019;34(4):205-210.
  • Trachoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/trachoma.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.