The Today Show: Craig Melvin and His Corneal Ulcer

The Beginning of Craig’s Glasses

Back in 2018 (I know, so long ago), Today’s Craig Melvin debuted his specs on air for the first time, but it was not by choice. Previously he wore contacts so often that many viewers did not know he needed glasses, but he was forced out of his contact lenses due to an eye health issue. When his left eye started getting red, Mr. Melvin brushed it off as allergies however his eye continued to get worse which caused him to seek medical care. So, what happened to Mr. Melvin’s eye? He had a corneal ulcer.

Eye nerd side note- based on a photo of Mr. Melvin in his glasses in People Magazine, I can tell he is nearsighted and I would guess about a -4.00!

What is a Corneal Ulcer?

A corneal ulcer is an abrasion on the clear part of the eye which is often infectious in origin. The offending organism can be bacterial, fungal or amoeboid. The ulcer can start small at which point the eye may just appear red and irritated but if left untreated it will continue to enlarge and become more painful. As the ulcer progresses, it will increase in size and depth which can result in scarring or perforation of the eye. Corneal ulcers can happen to anybody but are much more likely to occur in a contact lens wearer. The risk for corneal ulcers increases in those who sleep in their contacts, use extended wear contact lenses, are immunocompromised or those who do not clean their contacts properly. In Mr. Melvin’s case, he admitted to sleeping in his contact lenses.

Tell-tale Signs Not to Ignore

As an eye doctor, what stood out to me immediately is that only Mr. Melvin’s left eye bothered him. Ocular allergies and dry eye are never going to only affect one eye. If you are a contact lens wearer and you experience irritation, redness, discomfort or change in vision, then you need to stop using your contacts immediately and seek treatment. One mistake we often see is that patients continue to wear their contacts when their eyes are bothering them because their eye ‘feels better’ with the lens in. However, this is a grave mistake because you are simply putting a ‘band-aid’ on the problem, but the contact itself will optimize breeding grounds for infection and allow it fester.

How is the Corneal Ulcer Treated?

Most corneal ulcers will be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will examine the extent of the ulcer and location, prescribe medication and will monitor you DAILY until the ulcer begins to heal. During treatment, patients need to discontinue contact lens use and instill antibiotic eye drops every 1-2 hours while awake and use an antibiotic ointment at night. If your corneal ulcer is due to fungus or acanthamoeba you will need additional medications, which often needs to be made to order in a pharmacy. In some cases, surgery may be required if extensive scarring results from the infection.

What Happens if I Have a Corneal Ulcer?

A question commonly asked is, “If I have a corneal ulcer will I lose my eye or my vision?” With prompt medical care, it is unlikely that you will lose your eye or vision. However, if the ulcer is in the middle of the cornea, once healed, it will likely result in scarring and some vision loss. To obtain the best visual outcome, it will be imperative that you seek treatment immediately and follow the doctor’s instructions.

“All of this sounds scary, should I just stop wearing contacts?” The answer to this is likely no, however, ocular health is best managed on a case by case basis. If you have normal eye health, there are many breathable contact lenses, that when used as outlined by the FDA are safe to wear. Our own Dr. Denton wears daily use contact lenses all of the time! If you are concerned if your contact lens usage is healthy or risky, contact us at Salisbury Eyecare and Eyewear.

If you enjoyed this article about Craig Melvin’s Corneal Ulcer, be sure to check our our article on Stevie Wonder Doesn’t Need Perfect Vision to be a Legendary Musician.

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A Little Bit About…

A Little Bit About…

Ashley Iketani-Castillo, OD, MS

Dr. Iketani is a Florida native who has a passion for managing ocular disease. She views each patient as a whole person and believes the eyes are a window to a patient’s systemic health. She also has a passion for fitting rigid lenses on patients with corneal disease to help them obtain their best vision.

Dr. Iketani graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry where she completed internships at the Hefner Veteren’s Affairs hospital in Charlotte, NC and The Metrolina Association for the Blind which focused on Low Vision rehabilitation. Prior to pursuing optometry, she obtained a Masters of Science which focused on developmental genetics and worked as a technician in a lab that researched breast cancer.

Dr. Iketani currently resides in Charlotte with her husband, a pediatric resident, their two cats and they are welcoming a baby boy in December 2018.

Disclaimer

Information contained within this Web site is intended solely for educational purposes and is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice relative to your specific medical condition or question. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies. By using this Web site, you agree to this Medical Disclaimer.

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205 E Council Street, Suite B
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Phone: (704) 310-5002
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205 E Council Street, Suite B
Salisbury, North Carolina 28144

Phone: (704) 310-5002
Fax: (704) 310-5003
kristin@salisburyeyecareandeyewear.com

 

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