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Blind students with white canes waiting to cross Congress Avenue, a busy six lane road.

Corneal Scarring

DESCRIPTION: May be caused by injury to the cornea (abrasion, laceration, burns, or disease); depending on the degree of scarring, vision can range from a blur to total blindness Surface abrasions, although extremely painful, heal transparently (do not leave scars). Deeper abrasions and ulcerations/lacerations result in a loss of corneal tissue, which is replaced by scar tissue. Scars left from burns depend on the type and depth of burn: boiling water or a curling iron leave superficial scarring; acids or alkalies cause deeper damage unless neutralized immediately. Scarring from disease (usually an inflammation) is usually the result of a proliferation of new blood vessels into the clear cornea, to assist in the healing process. Diseases which cause vascularization include herpes simplex, syphilis, and keratitis.

TREATMENT: When corneal scarring is dense enough to affect vision, a corneal transplant is indicated. This procedure is 90% successful because of the minimal rejection rate (due to a lack of blood supply in the cornea).

IMPLICATIONS: The best treatment is prevention (of disease and injury). Educational needs will vary, according to individual conditions (extent and Iocation of corneal scar tissue in relation to the pupil). The level of illumination and print size may be factors to consider also.

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