Corneal Disorders We Treat

At the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado we offer the best specialized eye care for your cornea and laser vision correction needs. Not only do we provide traditional solutions for existing or chronic corneal problems, but our patients experience innovative corneal care and treatments with less-invasive solutions that increase safety, or end-stage solutions when traditional treatments have failed.


Keratoconus is an uncommon condition that causes a progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea, the clear front portion of the eye. As this condition progresses, the cornea develops a cone-like bulge, altering the shape and distorting vision. Keratoconus usually affects both eyes, however the progression and symptoms may differ in each eye. Blindness rarely occurs as a result of keratoconus although vision may become significantly impaired. The cause of keratoconus is unknown but some researchers believe there may be a genetic link since an estimated 10% of patients with keratoconus have a family member with the disease.

Generally glasses are used to correct vision in keratoconic patients. Rigid contact lenses may be used if good vision cannot be achieved with glasses. RGPs are contoured to address the cone-like shape of the cornea, thereby improving vision. A proper fitting lens is vital in providing a comfortable fit and adequate vision.

A relatively new option for keratoconic patients is placing crescent-shaped acrylic inserts (Intacs) in the midperiphery of the cornea. This has shown to be an effective treatment for some keratoconic patients.


Pterygium (sometimes called surfer’s eye) is a pinkish, triangular tissue growth on the cornea of the eye. It typically starts on the cornea near the nose. It may grow slowly, but rarely grows so large that the pupil is covered. Pterygia that are threatening the visual axis, causing significant astigmatism or irritation should be excised.

Our modern methods of pterygium surgery greatly reduce the incidence of recurrence and have a better cosmetic outcome. Dr. Verner is a national speaker and advocate for the use of amniotic membrane in ocular surface reconstruction. This method includes primary excision, polishing of the corneal bed, and precise application of an amniotic membrane transplant (AMT) graft in the bed of the former pterygium. While reports vary, such a method generally reduces the risk of recurrence from 50 percent with just primary excision down below 5 percent, and usually reduces post-operative pain as well.

External & Infectious Eye Disease

Because the outside of the eye is in direct contact with the environment, it is susceptible to infections and injuries. There are also a number of hereditary diseases that can impact the outer eye. The major signs of external eye disease are redness that does not improve with treatment and poor vision not explained by retina problems.

Patients with significant recurrent or chronic ocular surface problems can represent a diagnostic challenge. We welcome such challenges and are willing to run full evaluations and tests to get to the bottom of these cases and their systemic causes. Recently diagnosed cases include:

  • Acanthamoeba keratitis
  • Thygeson’s SPK’s
  • Nodular scleritis due to undiagnosed Polyarteritis Nodosa
  • Dry Eye due to Wegner’s granulomatosis
  • Dacryocystocele with preseptal cellulitis
  • Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and ankyloblepharon
  • Corneal and conjunctival neoplasms
  • Bacterial corneal ulcers
  • Fungal corneal ulcers
  • Viral corneal disease

Infectious disease cases can be taken on an emergency basis. We will send cultures, microscopic, serological, and tissue tests as indicated and manage fortified topical or injected ocular medications and systemic medications as needed in these cases.