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Recurrent Corneal Erosion: What You Need to Know

Recurrent corneal erosion (RCE) is a chronic relapsing condition in which an eye that has previously experienced an injury to the cornea becomes symptomatic again with no obvious cause. Not all recurrent corneal erosions necessitate having had a prior injury to the cornea, with some corneal erosions occurring spontaneously. Individuals with recurrent corneal erosion are often debilitated by the pain and the loss of vision this condition can sometimes cause.

What Is Recurrent Corneal Erosion?

Recurrent corneal erosion is a common disorder that involves the thin tissue on the front of the cornea in the eye. Recurrent corneal erosion is characterized by the frequent breakdown of this thin tissue. This condition can cause moderate to severe pain, sensitivity to light, and possible scarring of the cornea. Around half of these reported cases (45 to 64 percent) are related to prior physical injury. In some cases, the original abrasion may have been slight or healed rapidly, leaving no indication of injury. 

What Are the Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Recurrent Corneal Erosion?

Recurrent corneal erosion primarily develops in adults between the ages of 30 and 80, but adults between 30 and 40 are the most likely to be diagnosed with this condition. The most common predictors of recurrent corneal erosion are nocturnal dry eye, diabetes mellitus, blepharitis, and ocular rosacea. Individuals with a common hereditary condition called map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy, which is characterized by a thickened layer of cells at the bottom of the cornea that becomes folded and looks like continents on a map, opaque dots, or even fingerprints.

The first symptom of recurrent corneal erosion is typically sharp pain that presents on one side of the eye upon awakening. Additional symptoms include redness, blurred sight, tearing and sensitivity to light. These episodes can last from seconds to days. 

What to Expect from Diagnosis and Screening for Recurrent Corneal Erosion

The diagnostic exam for recurrent corneal erosion is conducted with a slit-lamp examination. With the use of this microscope with a bright light attached, your eye care professional can examine the different structures at the front of and inside the eye, including the cornea. You may be given an eye drop with a yellow dye (fluorescein) to help to stain irregular, loose tissue as well as highlight non-staining abrasions that stick out of the tear film, a characteristic of EBMD.

What Are the Medications and Treatments for Recurrent Corneal Erosion?

No precise therapy for recurrent corneal erosion exists. There are many different approaches that encourage re-epithelialization and work to prevent further recurrences. Acute episodes of RCE may be treated with a topical antibiotic in order to avoid infection of the cornea. This treatment may include a dilating eye drop that functions to prevent pain often accompanied by a semi-pressure occlusive dressing. Once the corneal erosion is healed, your eye care professional may prescribe a sodium chloride ointment to be administered topically at night. This saline ointment draws fluid from the cornea as well as provides lubrication to promote the further healing of the underlying corneal tissue. Healing may take at least 6 to 8 weeks, while the ointment and/or drops should be continued, if necessary, for several months. 

How Tucker & Associates Can Help 

If you have woken up with a sharp pain in the eye and are also experiencing redness, blurring of vision, tearing or light sensitivity, or if you have had a corneal abrasion before and suspect the symptoms have returned, call Tucker & Associates. The earlier you can come see our knowledgable eye care professionals to evaluate your eye condition the better we can help take care of your eye concerns.

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