FAQ’s About Recurrent Corneal Erosions

by Feb 1, 2021

Have you ever woken up with your eye in pain, tearing and red? Was it sensitive to light and feeling like there was something stuck inside it? Has it happened multiple times before? There is a chance that it was a recurrent corneal erosion (RCE). Read on to learn more about this condition and what you can do to prevent it from happening.


What Causes a Recurrent Corneal Erosion?

The front surface of the eye is referred to as the cornea and is very important in allowing the eye to see images clearly. It also contains nerve endings that, when stimulated, can cause intense pain.

The most outer layer of the cornea is the epithelium, which protects the eye from external threats. A condition known as epithelial basement membrane dystrophy, which refers to the inability of that epithelium to stick down and adhere to the rest of the eye, is a common cause of RCE.

This could be due to a variety of factors, like trauma to the eye (i.e. fingernail, tree branch, etc.).

A cut to the front of the eye is similar to a paper cut, in that it will expose the layers underneath, but over time, the tissue surrounding it will fill in the gaps.

During these healing stages, the layers will not grow back smoothly and will be more susceptible to opening back up. This is referred to as a recurrent corneal erosion: a patch of epithelium that opens back up, often in the morning when the eyes open after a night of rest. This is because your eyes are closed all night and thus become more dry.

Coupled with the mechanical motion of the eyelids moving upon waking, the cornea can be ripped and cause an RCE to occur. Other causes include various other degenerative corneal conditions, refractive surgeries, or past corneal ulcers.

What are the Symptoms of RCE?

Commonly, this condition arises in the morning upon eye opening and the patient feels pain and tearing. It is often in the same eye as a previous traumatic injury and the eye will be uncomfortable.

The eye will also be red and light sensitive, with improved comfort when the eyes are closed.

Can Recurrent Corneal Erosion be Treated?

The treatment for RCE is to protect the abrasion that occurred and prevent future occurrences. On the first day, our optometrist may note the size of the abrasion and decide to put on a bandage contact lens.


Unlike regular contact lenses, the purpose of this lens is to protect the cut from causing more discomfort as the eyelid closes overtop of it, acting as a barrier. This lens is to be left in the eye and you should be sleeping with them in place.


An antibiotic is often given to help prevent bacterial infection. The bandage contact lens will be removed within the next week.

After the healing process is complete, our optometrist may recommend a hypertonic eye drop that helps to better seal down the loose patch. Large amounts of artificial tears will also be used to encourage healing. In extreme cases, surgical procedures may be warranted to prevent recurrence.

Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for a recurrent corneal erosion injury. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.

You can schedule your next appointment with us online!

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