Diet & Thin Corneas

The dome-shaped cornea covers your eye. The space between the cornea and your iris contains fluid called aqueous humor that nourishes the surrounding tissues. If you have thin corneas, you may have an increased risk for corneal damage or misdiagnosis of eye conditions. Dietary choices will not improve corneal thickness, but certain nutrients could help to prevent damage to the thin tissue. Knowing the nutritional choice you can make will help you work with your doctor to prevent complications.

The corneal tissue begins at the edge of your iris and forms a dome over your eye.


A thin cornea will often not show any signs of a problem, but your eye doctor may note your corneal thickness during an eye examination. As a result, you may not know you have a problem until you have complications. A thin cornea could tear with eye rubbing, a soft blow to the eye or other minor trauma.

An eye pressure reading measures the pressure created from the aqueous humor filling the area between your cornea and iris. A thin cornea may give a low reading for an eye pressure, even if you have a high intraocular pressure. Due to this, early signs of glaucoma could go undetected. Glaucoma, an eye condition resulting from high intraocular pressure, typically leads to gradual loss of vision if left untreated.


The foods you eat will not add thickness to your cornea. However, consuming foods rich in antioxidants could help to prevent the breakdown of corneal tissues. Oxidative stress occurs when abnormal oxygen molecules called free radicals damage cells, and this, in turn affects the health of the tissues. Since thin corneas already have an increased risk for damage, dietary choices could have a beneficial effect.

Choose foods rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A. Oranges, bananas and spinach provide vitamin C, and you can eat a variety of nuts and seeds for vitamin E. Foods with vitamin A include carrots, milk and apricots. Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants commonly found together, may also offer protection. Foods rich in these nutrients include kale, collard greens and other dark green, leafy vegetables.


If you do not know whether you have thin corneas, talk to your eye doctor. She will perform a quick measurement in her office, a test called corneal pachymetry, that will measure the exact thickness, and this will help you and your doctor determine any possible risks.

The doctor will place an eye drop in your eye that numbs the surface. She will then use a small, hand-held machine to gently touch your cornea. You will not feel the touch of the device. The eye doctor may touch your cornea a few times, taking multiple measurements to ensure accuracy. After she moves away from your eye, the test is complete, and your doctor will discuss her findings.


Thin corneas do not provide symptoms that will help you detect an early problem. Instead, you should have routine eye examinations, and your eye doctor will monitor your eye health. If you have family members diagnosed with thin corneas, talk to your doctor. She may recommend testing your corneal thickness to determine if you have a similar condition.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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