What is recurrent corneal erosion syndrome?

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome is repeated episodes of spontaneous, superficial corneal abrasion (scratches). This occurs when the outer layer, the epithelium fails to adhere onto the underlying membrane. This makes it possible for the epithelium to break down and come .

The cornea is a transparent dome shaped window, covering the front of the eye. It covers the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the pupil (the central area) The cornea has more nerve endings than anywhere else in the body and is very sensitive to touch, temperature, pain and chemicals.

People who have had previous corneal abrasions, usually from sharp objects, i.e. paper or fingernails, people with underlying abnormal corneal structure, diabetes or blepharitis( lid inflammation ) are more prone to the condition.

It is usually in one eye and can cause a sudden onset of eye pain
usually in the morning on waking together with foreign body sensation and light sensitivity. The eye can also be watery and red.


It is treated by reducing friction between the eye and the eyelids, to encourage complete healing of the eye surface. This can be done by frequent lubricating eye drops during the day and an ointment at night for approximately 6 weeks. The lubrication prevents the surface cells from being sheared off and allows them to develop anchors to the layers beneath. Sometimes other measures are needed, for example, a special contact lens applied as a bandage, minor surgery or laser therapy.

Our view

It is always good to wear eye protection when carrying out activities where you may be likely to scratch the eye and get dust or grit in your eyes. If you have symptoms of eye pain or progressive vision loss you should see an eye specialist urgently for the correct diagnosis and management advice.

Article written by

Mr K.Lakhani BSC MCOptom Dip TpIp

Special Optometrist

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