Corneal Erosion

A corneal erosion is a condition in which the surface layer of the cornea sloughs off. It is essentially a spontaneous abrasion of the cornea. It classically occurs first thing in the morning, when you open your eye from sleeping. The eyelid will stick to the surface of the eye (cornea) and when the eyelids open the corneal surface is disrupted and dislodged.

It causes…

  • Sudden onset pain
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity

…similar to having a poke or scratch in the eye.

The cornea heals and the symptoms resolve over a few hours to a few days, depending on the severity. The condition can recur in the same spot on the cornea (particularly if there is a history of a previous abrasion or injury), or can occur randomly in either eye in certain individuals with a predisposition for corneal erosions.

Treatment includes lubricating drops and ointments, and topical antibiotics to prevent infection while the surface heals. In more severe cases, a therapeutic contact lens can be inserted to immediately lessen the pain and allow the surface to heal.

Ways to prevent corneal erosions include not running ceiling fans over your bed and using certain lubricating ointments (such as 5% sodium chloride gel) in your eye before bedtime.

Area of corneal erosion outlined. Hazy, irregular corneal surface layer seen.