Have you ever had a recurrent epithelial erosion? If you had, you’d definitely know it. This serious condition is like a scab on the eye that gets torn off when your eyes are dry, you haven’t had enough sleep, or you’ve had too much to drink. It usually occurs after you’ve had a corneal abrasion (aka scratched cornea) or a foreign body in your eye, and the top layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, never completely reattaches to the basement membrane.
A recurrent epithelial erosion is painful because it exposes the sensitive corneal nerves when the epithelium is torn off. Symptoms include blurry vision that can last several days, severe eye pain, photophobia (sensitivity to light), extreme pain, and possible corneal scarring.
Previous Treatments for Epithelial Erosion
Previous treatments only provided temporary relief, and were not completely successful. In the past, treatment included:
- Wetting and hyperosmotic drops
- Antibiotics and pain relievers
- Punctal occlusion, a procedure to relieve dry eye syndrome by keeping tears in the eyes longer
- A bandage contact lens
- Stromal puncture, which involves poking tiny holes in the cornea to create scarring in an attempt to induce healing
- Debridement, or scraping off the top layer of the cornea
- Phototherapeutic keratectomy, which is using a laser to remove the top layer of the cornea with hopes that the epithelium will regrow with a stronger adhesion to the basement membrane.
Amniotic Membrane Graft
The newest and most successful treatment for damaged corneas is to use an amniotic membrane graft. This procedure is a relatively simple procedure with little discomfort. The amniotic membrane is the part of the placenta that protects the baby during development in the womb. This tissue helps to heal damaged corneas by promoting healthy cell growth. An amniotic graft can be used to treat recurrent corneal erosion, corneal defects, chemical burns, and damage from dry eyes.
Amniotic membrane grafts are a safe and effective treatment, regulated and approved by the FDA. The majority of patients who undergo the procedure are back to work the next day.
At Hollywood Vision Center, we have had many success stories with patients whose lives have been improved tremendously by this procedure. Please call our office for a consultation to determine if you would benefit from an amniotic membrane graft.