Consultant Ophthalmologist,
Cataract & Refractive Surgeon

BMedSci BM BS MRCS MRCSEd MRCOpth FRCOphth MMedLaw PgD Cataract & Refractive Surgery

Recurrent Erosion Syndrome

Font Size

What's going on?

This condition can occur if you've had some form of injury to your eye or you have an inherited problem with the cells on the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye). The classical problem to cause this is a paper cut to the eye or a scratch from a child's nail. The initial injury heals but the cells which grew over to cover the damage never stick down properly and are thus prone to dislodging. Blinking of the lids over the cornea may rub off some of these cells, particularly if your eye is also dry. When the cells come away, you can experience sudden pain and a feeling of something in your eye. Classically this occurs in the morning as overnight the eye dries and your upper lid sticks to the abnormal cells. When you open your eyes, you can feel sudden pain as the lid causes a spontaneous re-opening of the corneal wound.

If the problem is minor, you could only have a transient red eye with watering which settles within an hour. If severe, you could have a massive scratch, which needs a course of antibiotic ointment to help it settle.

What will my ophthalmologist see?

If you've had a very recent attack, we can see signs of the corneal injury. We may however see nothing at all if the cells have healed over again.

What will my ophthalmologist do for me?

We can make sure that you do not have a congenital/inherited problem with the cornea which has caused the problem. We can also treat any acute problem and advise with regards prophylactic treatment to stop the problem coming back.

What can I do?

Often using lubricants last thing at night can keep the eye moist overnight and prevent the early morning drying which can cause an attack.

What do I need to know?

This is a chronic problem, but topical lubricants usually help. These may have to be used indefinitely. Where the cause is trauma rather than a dystrophy, half of all cases resolve within 12 months.