Corneal Abrasion and Recurrent Erosion
19671 Beach Blvd. Suite 400 Huntington Beach, California 92648
One of the most common injuries to the eye is an abrasion. In this condition the surface layer of the eye (epithelium) is removed by such dangerous intruders such as baby’s fingernails, tree limbs and the like. Abrasions are very painful and can cause excessive tearing, redness, and blurred vision.
These usually heal in a short period of time. A good night’s sleep is curative in most instances. Treatment consists of a tight patch to keep the lids from moving and pain relievers as needed for comfort. Often an antibiotic is instilled into the eye because an abrasion invites infection. Abrasions covering small areas heal rapidly. Those covering more than one third of the cornea may take a day or two to completely cover over again.
In the office a local anesthetic is instilled into the eye for temporary relief and for ease in making a reasonable examination of the injury. (Repeated use of the anesthetic can harm the eye and is therefore NOT used in the treatment of abrasions).
Permanent loss of vision is very rare with superficial abrasions. It may take several weeks for all of the blurriness to resolve, but this is almost always the case.
It is important to NOT rub the eyes during the healing phase. The new cells have poor connections to the underlying tissue and can easily be rubbed off. When this occurs, the pain returns and re-patching is necessary.
Occasionally, long after an abrasion has healed it recurs spontaneously, often upon awakening in the morning. This is called recurrent corneal erosion and represents an area of epithelium that is not “glued” down well to the deeper parts of the cornea.
The treatment is similar to that for an abrasion. Sometimes we prick the bare surface of the cornea with a needle to help form better connections between these two surfaces. Bedtime ointments and other forms of lubrication are also helpful in preventing the troublesome complication.