Corneal Ulcer Nursing Diagnosis and Care Plan


A Corneal Ulcer is when a sore appears on the eye’s cornea. An infection usually causes it. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungal agents can cause the condition.

Signs and Symptoms


  • Severe pain
  • A feeling that there is something in the eye.


  • Inflammation
  • Eye redness
  • Cloudy cornea (slit lamp exam)
  • Those that wear contact lenses and sleep with them or do not clean them properly.
  • Eye Injuries, dry eyes, pre-existing disease of the cornea. 
  • Weakened or immune system disorders.

It is important to remember that if corneal ulcers go untreated, serious complications can arise, such as impaired vision, corneal scarring, perforation of the cornea, and even endophthalmitis (eye infection). 

Nursing Diagnosis for Corneal Ulcer

Below are five nursing diagnoses that can be used for Corneal Ulcer Nursing Care Plans.

  1. Risk for Infection
  2. Impaired Comfort related to eye pain
  3. Sensory Perception, disturbed visual
  4. Anxiety related to vision loss
  5. Risk for Trauma

Desired Outcomes:

  • The patient’s eye infection will be effectively treated, leading to the healing of the corneal ulcer.
  • The patient will report a decrease in eye pain and discomfort.
  • The patient’s visual acuity will be maintained or improved.
  • The patient will be free from complications such as scarring, perforation, or spread of the infection.

Nursing Interventions for Corneal Ulcer

  1. Administer prescribed medications: This includes antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals, depending on the cause of the ulcer. (Rationale: Medication is vital to manage the infection and prevent its spread).
  2. Educate patient on proper eye hygiene: This includes instructing the patient not to touch their eyes with dirty hands and to use clean tissues or cotton balls when necessary (Rationale: Preventing additional infection).
  3. Provide comfort measures, including dimming lights, providing eye patches, or giving over-the-counter pain relievers (Rationale: To alleviate pain and discomfort).
  4. Educate on proper use and care of contact lenses: For contact lens wearers, adequate cleaning, disinfecting, and not sleeping with lenses can prevent the recurrence of corneal ulcers (Rationale: Reducing the risk of reinfection).
  5. Coordinate with the healthcare team: It is essential to communicate regularly with the healthcare team, including the ophthalmologist, to assess the progress of the treatment plan (Rationale: Effective coordination can lead to a more comprehensive care approach).
  6. Regular follow-ups and eye examinations: To monitor the healing of the corneal ulcer and assess for any potential complications (Rationale: Early detection and management of complications can lead to better patient outcomes).

Nursing Care Plan for Corneal Ulcer

Impaired Comfort

Nursing Diagnosis: Impaired Comfort related to corneal ulcer and associated symptoms, such as pain, redness, and photophobia.

Related Factors/Causes:

  1. Inflammation and infection of the cornea.
  2. Sensitivity to light caused by corneal damage.
  3. Foreign body sensation due to corneal ulcer.

Desired Outcomes:

  1. The patient will report decreased pain and discomfort, as evidenced by self-reporting and less frequent use of analgesics.
  2. The patient will be able to tolerate light better, with decreased photophobia.
  3. The patient will express a feeling of relief from the foreign body sensation in the eye.

Nursing Interventions with Rationales:

  1. Administer prescribed analgesics and eye drops as ordered: This helps reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort (Rationale: Pain management is a crucial component of patient comfort, and eye drops can also help to speed the healing of the corneal ulcer).
  2. Create a comfortable environment: Dimming lights, limiting exposure to bright lights, and providing eye patches can help decrease sensitivity to light and increase comfort (Rationale: Photophobia is a common symptom of corneal ulcers, and managing light exposure can significantly improve patient comfort).
  3. Patient Education: Teach the patient about the importance of not rubbing the eye, using clean tissues or cotton balls if they need to touch their eyes, and following the prescribed treatment regimen. This can help prevent further damage and reduce the sensation of a foreign body in the eye (Rationale: Understanding the condition and its management can help the patient feel more in control and less anxious, contributing to overall comfort).

Impaired Vision

Nursing Diagnosis: Impaired Vision related to corneal ulcer and potential corneal scarring.

Related Factors/Causes:

  1. Injury or infection of the cornea leading to corneal ulcer.
  2. Potential scarring on the cornea as a result of a corneal ulcer.
  3. Decreased visual acuity due to inflammation and damage to the cornea.

Desired Outcomes:

  1. The patient will demonstrate improved visual acuity, as evidenced by self-reporting and clinical evaluation.
  2. The patient will report decreased blurred vision.
  3. The patient will demonstrate adaptation to vision changes, such as using assistive devices if necessary.

Nursing Interventions with Rationales:

  1. Administer Prescribed Medications: Antivirals, antibiotics, or antifungals, as well as corticosteroids, can be administered to manage the infection and inflammation, helping to prevent corneal scarring and further vision impairment (Rationale: Timely and appropriate medication can treat the underlying cause of the corneal ulcer and potentially avoid progression to impaired vision).
  2. Arrange for Regular Eye Examinations: Monitor the healing of the corneal ulcer and assess for any potential complications, including corneal scarring (Rationale: Regular check-ups allow for early detection and management of complications, which can prevent or limit vision impairment).
  3. Provide Patient Education and Support: Teach the patient about their condition, its potential impact on vision, and the importance of adhering to the treatment regimen. Also, provide resources about vision aids and support, if needed (Rationale: By understanding their condition and its management, patients can participate more actively in their care, potentially limiting the progression of vision impairment and adapting more effectively if visual changes occur).

Nursing Test Questions for Corneal Ulcer

Question 1: A nurse is caring for a patient who has been diagnosed with a corneal ulcer. Which of the following symptoms would the nurse expect the patient to report?

A) Double vision 

B) Photophobia 

C) Loss of peripheral vision 

D) Color vision deficiency

Answer: B) Photophobia

Rationale: Sensitivity to light, also known as photophobia, is a common symptom of a corneal ulcer. Other symptoms can include eye redness, pain, a feeling of “something in the eye”, and decreased vision.

Question 2: A patient diagnosed with a corneal ulcer reports severe eye pain and sensitivity to light. What would be an appropriate nursing intervention?

A) Encourage the patient to use their prescribed contact lenses 

B) Provide comfort measures such as dimming lights or providing eye patches 

C) Instruct the patient to rub their eyes to relieve discomfort 

D) Advise the patient to avoid all prescribed medications to prevent further irritation

Answer: B) Provide comfort measures such as dimming lights or providing eye patches

Rationale: Dimming lights or providing eye patches can help alleviate discomfort caused by light sensitivity, one of the symptoms of a corneal ulcer. Rubbing the eyes or using contact lenses can further irritate the eye and potentially exacerbate the condition.

Question 3: What should be the primary focus of patient education for a contact lens wearer diagnosed with a corneal ulcer?

A) The importance of annual eye exams 

B) Correct use and care of contact lenses 

C) The process of surgical correction of the eye 

D) The benefits of refractive surgery

Answer: B) Correct use and care of contact lenses

Rationale: While all options are essential in eye care, the correct use and care of contact lenses is crucial for a patient with a corneal ulcer who is a contact lens wearer. This includes cleaning and disinfecting lenses and avoiding sleeping in them to prevent the recurrence of corneal ulcers.

Question 4: A patient diagnosed with a corneal ulcer is at risk for which of the following complications if the condition is not treated effectively?

A) Glaucoma 

B) Macular degeneration 

C) Corneal scarring 

D) Retinal detachment

Answer: C) Corneal scarring

Rationale: A corneal ulcer can lead to corneal scarring, impairing vision if not treated effectively. Other potential complications can include further infections and, in severe cases, vision loss.

Question 5: Which of the following statements is a valid nursing diagnosis for a patient with a corneal ulcer?

A) “Impaired Gas Exchange related to decreased lung function as evidenced by shortness of breath and cyanosis.” 

B) “Risk for Infection related to disruption of corneal integrity and potential exposure to infectious agents.” 

C) “Impaired Urinary Elimination related to urinary tract infection as evidenced by dysuria and urgency.” 

D) “Risk for Fluid Volume Deficit related to excessive sweating and inadequate fluid intake.”

Answer: B) “Risk for Infection related to disruption of corneal integrity and potential exposure to infectious agents.”

Rationale: A corneal ulcer disrupts the integrity of the cornea and exposes the eye to potentially infectious agents. This increases the patient’s risk of further infection, making this a valid nursing diagnosis.

Nursing References

Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Makic, M. B., Martinez-Kratz, M. R., & Zanotti, M. (2020). Nursing diagnoses handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2022). Nursing care plans: Diagnoses, interventions, & outcomes. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Ignatavicius, D. D., Workman, M. L., Rebar, C. R., & Heimgartner, N. M. (2020). Medical-surgical nursing: Concepts for interprofessional collaborative care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Silvestri, L. A. (2020). Saunders comprehensive review for the NCLEX-RN examination. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Best Nursing Books and Resources

These are the nursing books and resources that we recommend. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. Please see our Privacy Policy

The Nursing Diagnosis Handbook E-Book: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care

This is an excellent reference for nurses and nursing students. While it is a great resource for writing nursing care plans and nursing diagnoses, it also helps guide the nurse to match the nursing diagnosis to the patient assessment and diagnosis.

This handbook has been updated with NANDA-I approved Nursing Diagnoses that incorporates NOC and NIC taxonomies and evidenced based nursing interventions and much more.

NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification, 2021-2023

All introductory chapters in this updated version of a ground-breaking text have been completely rewritten to give nurses the knowledge they require to appreciate assessment, its relationship to diagnosis and clinical reasoning, and the goal and use of taxonomic organization at the bedside.

Nursing Care Plans: Nursing Diagnosis and Intervention

It contains more than 200 care plans that adhere to the newest evidence-based recommendations.

Additionally, it distinguishes between nursing and collaborative approaches and highlights QSEN competencies.


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The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

This information is not intended to be nursing education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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Anna Curran. RN, BSN, PHN

Anna Curran. RN-BC, BSN, PHN, CMSRN I am a Critical Care ER nurse. I have been in this field for over 30 years. I also began teaching BSN and LVN students and found that by writing additional study guides helped their knowledge base, especially when it was time to take the NCLEX examinations.

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