Corneal erosion is when the layer of cells on the surface of the cornea, called the epithelium, loosens from the layer underneath. This is painful and makes your vision blurry or hazy.

Corneal Erosion Symptoms

Corneal erosion pain may start suddenly, often when you first wake in the morning. Your eyes get dry while you sleep, and your eyelid might stick to the cornea. If the epithelium is not firmly attached, opening your eyelids might peel the epithelium off.


Why Do Corneal Erosions Hurt So Much?

The cornea has many nerve cells. Cells called pain receptors transmit pain to tell us about possible damage to the eye’s surface. In fact, there are hundreds of times more pain receptors in our cornea than there are in our skin.


Who Is At Risk for Corneal Erosion?

  • You are more likely to have corneal erosion if you:
  • have very dry eyes,
  • had a corneal abrasion or other injury to the eye,
  • have a corneal disease (like corneal dystrophy),
  • wear contact lenses that are not fitted properly, or
  • wear contact lenses that have not been cared for properly.


Corneal Erosion Treatment

Your eye doctor will treat your eye based on what they find in the exam. Following are some options:

  • You may use moisturizing eye drops or ointment. This adds a soothing layer over the cornea.
  • Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to prevent an eye infection.
  • You may be given special eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil. This can help relieve pain.
  • You may be given a special contact lens to reduce pain and speed healing.
  • If it’s really large, you might wear a patch over your injured eye. This is to keep you from blinking and making the corneal erosion worse.


If you get corneal erosion two or more times, your eye doctor may recommend other treatment. This could include:

  • gel eye drops at night
  • Restasis or Xiidra drops to encourage tear production
  • NSAID drop occasionally with the worst pain
  • steroid drops and low dose doxycycline pills for several weeks.
  • surgery or laser treatment to remove corneal tissue
  • surgery called anterior stromal puncture. An ophthalmologist will make tiny holes on the surface of your cornea. The scar tissue from these holes binds the epithelium to the layer underneath.


Help Your Eyes Heal from Corneal Erosion

  • Do not rub your eye while it is healing. Rubbing can slow down healing, or even make the problem worse.
  • Avoid wearing your usual contact lenses while your eye is healing. Ask your ophthalmologist when you can wear your lenses again.


Protect Your Corneas

  • Wear safety goggles or other eye protection when mowing the lawn and trimming bushes. Also use them when cutting wood and steel.
  • Always wear safety glasses when playing sports.
  • Clip your child’s fingernails. Babies and children can accidentally scratch their corneas with their fingernails.
  • Pay attention when putting on eye makeup or using a hairbrush or curling iron.