The cornea can be scratched or injured by such things as a contact lens, a fingernail or a foreign body in the eye, causing a corneal erosion or abrasion. In this condition there is a break in the outer most layer of the cornea, creating an opportunity for bacterial infection. Diseases and conditions of the cornea can also be a contributing factor to recurrent corneal erosion.
How is this Painful Condition Treated?
The most common treatment is to fit with a bandage contact lens or patch the eye with light pressure. This reduces mechanical rubbing on the edges of the abrasion allowing the damaged epithelium to heal. Patching reduces pain by preventing the blinking eyelid from irritating the affected area. The eye is most painful when it moves, and since both eyes move together, it is often helpful to rest with your eyes closed minimizing eye movement. Reducing movement further decreases pain. An antibiotic may be prescribed to prevent infection.
Corneal erosions which can be recurrent often require repeat patching or the use of hyperosmotic ointments at bedtime. Sometimes a soft or bandage-type contact lens is used to facilitate healing.
What are Possible Complications?
If bacteria gets into the tissues under the protective corneal epithelium infection or corneal ulcer can occur. Corneal ulcers can be very serious and may cause loss of vision in the eye. Pain is a common factor in corneal abrasions or erosions which is often debilitating. Anesthetic drops relieve pain but may keep the eye from healing properly if used repeatedly.
What is the Usual Outcome?
Usually the corneal erosion or abrasion will heal within a week, sometimes within 24-48 hours. Sometimes however, corneal erosion can recur if the epithelium is disturbed or the eye is rubbed, which can frequently occur upon awakening.
In the majority of cases corneal erosions and abrasions will heal completely without scarring or loss of vision. Proper care by you and your eye care professional is necessary to help prevent serious consequences.