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Your eye care specialist can diagnose a corneal ulcer with a routine eye exam. During the exam, he or she will ask you about your medical history, recent eye injuries and contact lens wear.
Diagnostic Tests for Corneal Ulcer
At Stanford Byers Eye Institute, we offer extensive testing to confirm or rule out causes of the eye infection that caused your corneal ulcer. That way, we can pinpoint an accurate diagnosis of your condition and provide the best possible treatment.
In addition to the standard tests in the eye exam, we offer advanced technology for a thorough investigation of your eye condition, including:
Fluorescein stain of the cornea: We use eye drops with dye to highlight any damage to your cornea, then examine it with a special microscope called a slit lamp to see whether the damage is an ulcer.
Cultures of scrapings from the ulcer: We first numb your eye with eye drops, then gently scrape the ulcer to take a sample of it. Our on-site lab cultures the sample to see whether the cause is bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic. We can also perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on the sample to determine the presence of herpes virus DNA.
Confocal microscopy: We use a high-resolution microscope to scan your cornea, providing highly detailed images of individual cells in your cornea. This technology helps detect fungi and acanthamoeba that may be causing your eye infection.
High-definition (HD) photography: Digital photography provides sharp, detailed images of the cornea and other parts of the eye. The main purposes of photography are to make a baseline evaluation and assess improvement of the cornea ulcer with treatment.
Some of these tests, such as culturing cells from the corneal ulcer, taking HD photos of the cornea and scanning with a confocal microscope, are available only at academic medical centers like Stanford. Our cutting-edge testing provides more details for our physicians to use in determining your diagnosis and developing a plan for your treatment.
Diagnosing Conditions That Cause Corneal Ulcer
At Stanford, we also do thorough testing to detect or rule out rare, underlying systemic conditions that may cause corneal ulcers, such as tuberculosis (TB) or syphilis. Tests for these conditions include:
Tuberculin skin test: Detects whether you have been exposed to TB
TB blood test: Measures the immune system's response to the bacteria that cause TB
Tests on blood, body fluids, or tissue samples: Check for antibodies to the syphilis bacteria or the bacteria itself
If you do have one of these diseases, we work with your primary care physician and other Stanford specialists as necessary to coordinate your care.
Corneal Ulcer Treatment
Once we confirm a diagnosis of corneal ulcer, it's important that you begin treatment quickly for the best possible outcomes. With treatments ranging from eye drops or oral systemic medication for the specific infection, to a cornea transplant, our eye care specialists have years of experience caring for people with corneal ulcer. Read more about the options we offer for corneal ulcer treatment.