Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome

Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome

Do you suffer from intermittent eye pain that seems to strike first thing in the morning? You may have recurrent corneal erosion syndrome. Today, we have many successful treatment options to break the cycle of recurring eye pain and restore a healthy corneal surface.

What is Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome?

Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCE) is characterized by recurring eye pain that frequently happens just after waking in the morning. It is caused by erosions or tears in the surface skin that covers the cornea. These tears can be small and heal quickly within a few hours or large and take a few days to go away. These tears tend to happen in the morning as the eye is often driest at that time. RCE can happen for many reasons, especially patients with a history of eye trauma (poked in the eye), patients who have corneal dystrophies such as Map Dot Fingerprint dystrophy, or patients with severe dry eye disease.

Treatment Options for Recurrent Corneal Erosions

There are many treatment options for recurrent corneal erosion syndrome including medical and surgical options. Initial therapy often begins with a lubricating eye routine including warm compresses, lubricating tears, and hypertonic salt drops or ointments (such as Muro 128). If these treatments fail to control the recurrent erosions, then an office polishing procedure called a superficial keratectomy with an amniotic membrane graft may be helpful. This procedure can be coupled with a laser in some cases. These procedures can be very successful in resolving recurrent corneal erosion syndrome. If you have recurrent corneal erosion syndrome, consult with a cornea specialist for an evaluation and to discuss your options.

Why Does Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome Cause Eye Pain in the Morning?

Eye pain upon waking in patients with RCE tearing of the corneal skin surface. In patients with RCE, the attachments that anchor the cornea skin (epithelium) are weak and can tear easily. At night, it is common for the eye to dry slightly and those surface skin cells may stick to the eyelid more than to the surface of the eye. If that happens, then when you first open your eyelids in the morning you can tear the weak skin attachments causing a corneal abrasion. There are several good treatment options for recurrent corneal erosion syndrome. Consult with a cornea specialist to see which option may be best for you.

Steps for Success With Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome

Yes, there are several things you can do to help improve your chance of successfully treating RCE. Staying hydrated is important to ensuring your corneas stay well lubricated and protected. Alcohol and caffeine (coffee and tea and soda) are diuretics which means that they tend to dehydrate you. If you plan on having one of these beverages, be sure to drink enough water as well. A general rule of thumb is to have 1 glass of water for every glass of alcohol, coffee, tea, or soda.

Avoid sleeping under ceiling fans as that can make your eyes drier when sleeping at night.

Make sure to continue your eye lubricating routine. Omega6/3 supplements, warm compresses, and the muro 128 or other eye ointments at night are very important to make sure that your eyelids and the skin on your cornea stay well lubricated.

In addition, place a lubricating tear in your eye first thing in the morning before opening your eyes fully. Allow the drop to penetrate through your eyelashes and lubricate the surface of the eye before you fully open your eyes.

Following these general suggestions can help improve your chance of success, but if you are still suffering from recurrent corneal erosions, consult a cornea specialist about your options.

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