Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome (RCES) is a disorder of the corneal epithelium and underlying Bowman’s membrane. It can cause corneal scarring and vision loss, moderate to severe pain, sensitivity to light, and other serious issues. It can be difficult to treat.
What Are The Symptoms Of Recurrent Corneal Erosion?
The most apparent symptom is pain, which can be moderate to severe. It may occur suddenly, or upon waking up. The pain may last a few seconds, or it may last for several days.
You may also feel like there’s something in your eye, or your eye may be very sensitive to light—to the point where it is painful. Vision may be blurred, and you may experience excessive tear production, like your eye is trying to flush something out.
What Causes Recurrent Corneal Erosion?
Recurrent corneal erosion is often caused by another condition, such as a recent corneal injury or a disease such as corneal dystrophy. However, at times there is no identifiable underlying cause.
What Are The Treatments For Recurrent Corneal Erosion?
Topical Lubricating or Anti-Inflammatory Drops
For less serious cases of corneal erosion, the physician may prescribe lubricating or anti-inflammatory medications (such as steroids). These help protect the cornea surface and may give it a chance to heal.
Bandage contact lenses
Bandage contact lens therapy is used to treat cornea surface damage, either from disease or injury. Instead of a pressure patch bandage, a lens allows the physician to apply medication and observe the eye, while letting the patient have useable vision. It also allows the patient to use eyeglasses or sunglasses.
Amniotic Membrane Grafts
Human amniotic membrane (AM) has been proven to be an effective way of promoting corneal healing and restoring normal tear production. AM is harvested from placenta tissue obtained during elective cesarean section births. The tissue may be preserved through dehydration or cryogenics (freezing).
AM acts as a physical barrier to protect the cornea as it heals. It also reduces friction and pain from the eyelid during blinking, and it promotes the growth of cells and reduces inflammation.
In the past, AM had to be surgically inserted and sutured into the eye in an operating room. New developments, however, mean that AM can be administered by inserting a disc or band into the eye, much like a contact lens. The AM tissue remains in the eye for a period of time to promote healing, then is removed.
Laser Cornea Treatment: Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)
Phototherapeutic Keratectomy is a surgical procedure that can provide relief and healing for patients suffering from corneal erosion. PTK is a minor surgical treatment that uses an excimer laser to treat the cornea surface. The excimer laser is the same equipment used in LASIK surgery to improve vision. The laser removes a thin outer layer of tissue, providing a smoother, more consistent surface to promote healing.
In the procedure, an alcohol solution is applied to the eye to remove an initial layer of cells. Then the laser is used to remove a thicker (but still very thin) layer. Afterward, a contact lens bandage is put into place to protect the eye and reduce pain. The physician also provides a series of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing eye drops that must be applied as prescribed.
Afterward, recovery takes a few days. PTK has been used for more than 20 years and has a better than 90% success rate in treating corneal erosion.
Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun have cornea specialists and surgeons on staff and can implement the treatments necessary to manage corneal erosion issues. Schedule an appointment today by calling (865) 584-0905.