The cornea is the transparent window at the front of the eye, and is responsible for two thirds of the focusing power of the eye. It must remain clear, smooth, and regular to provide good vision.

It can be affected by a wide range of conditions with a variety of causes.

The corneal service provides assessment and treatment for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) conditions affecting the cornea.

More on what we do

The corneal service assesses and treats conditions affecting the cornea, such as:

  • Infection, including those caused by the use of contact lenses
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Injury
  • Inherited and acquired corneal dystrophies
  • Corneal ectasia, such as keratoconus
  • Severe dry eye
  • Care of corneal grafts
  • Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES)
  • Pterygium

Some corneal conditions, such as infections, can progress rapidly and require frequent assessments, sometimes only days apart. Be prepared for multiple visits to the eye department. Other conditions, such as keratoconus or dystrophies, progress very slowly, and may not need regular follow-up in the hospital.


Many corneal conditions can be treated with eye drops.

Some corneal conditions can affect vision in a way that can’t be corrected with glasses. Specialist contact lenses may help, and the corneal team work closely with the optometry team, who provide and monitor these lenses where appropriate.

Some corneal conditions, such as pterygium or RCES might require surgery to remove tissue or modify the corneal surface. They do not usually require graft surgery. If the cornea is very damaged, corneal graft surgery might be necessary. This is where damaged tissue is removed and replaced with healthy tissue. There are different types of grafts, depending on what parts or layers of the cornea are affected.

Because of the wide range and severity of corneal conditions, treatment options are discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Our team

Consultant: Mr Nathaniel Knox-Cartwright

Specialist Practitioner: Mr James Isaac

You may also be seen by one of the other ophthalmologists (specialist eye doctors).

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

From the main hospital reception, turn immediately right for the West of England Eye Unit.

Contact us

You can contact Mr Knox-Cartwright’s secretary on 01392 406211


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