Sunday, January 31, 2016

Recurrent Corneal Erosion

The good thing about technology is that it allows you to obtain a lot of information and with an informed mind, filter the information that you require and those that you do not.

Especially with medical conditions, the internet can be a valuable resource and it was through this vault of information that I looked up a condition I was suffering from- recurrent corneal erosion. I wished more people had written about their experience with recurrent corneal erosion so that I knew what I was dealing with. 

This entry is therefore for those who suffer from recurrent corneal erosions and are looking at treatment options. 

Around mid last year, my colleagues were getting conjunctivitis one after the other. One morning, I woke up with a sharp sting in my eye and tears couldn't stop flowing. I had conjunctivitis before so I thought, it might just be another episode of conjunctivitis. However, my eyes were not red at all. It was just that the stinging pain didn't go away and my vision became a little blur.




After I visited a general practitioner, I was referred to an eye specialist and was diagnosed with recurrent corneal erosion. 

Recurrent corneal erosion is a condition where the cornea's epithelial cells fail to attach to the underlying basement membrane. The pain sets in when you are sleeping or upon wakening because when the eyes get dry at night, the eyelid can stick to the epithelium. When the epithelium is not firmly attached, the opening of lids can cause the epithelium to tear off. 

I was prescribed with Systane Ultra and Genteal. The doctor said that applying the eye drops and lubricant would typically solve the problem for most patients because it was supposed to keep the eyes moist. Alas, it was not meant to be. 

With every episode of recurrent corneal erosion, leaving aside my disrupted sleep which consisted of an extremely painful eye (imagine your eye being stabbed) and non stop tearing (it's the body's way of trying to heal itself), my vision would be blur for a few days.
Couple this with the fear of wondering when the next episode will be, this condition was potentially causing a drop in the quality of my life. When the episodes become particularly bad, there was once I had to ask my colleague to hold my arm and lead me to the taxi stand and then ask the concierge at the hospital to bring me up to the clinic. Another time, I was in a discussion with my boss when my tears started flowing involuntarily (I had just suffered an episode the day before) and my boss was shocked.


I became such a familiar sight at the clinic and the ophthalmologist would say, "Oh dear, not another episode?" With my swollen and teary eyes, I could only sigh and shrug, "Yes, again." 

As with many other conditions, surgery is often a last resort. Besides numerous rounds of eye drops and lubricants, the doctor once scrapped off a layer of epithelial cells, in the hope that it will help the epithelial cells be stronger. To put it in the words of my mother, it looked like he was taking out bird's nest. The pain after that was akin to a recurrent corneal erosion, maybe slightly worse.

Besides that, I was always hoping that the doctor would put bandage contact lens into my eye which was always a welcome relief. With bandage contact lens, you had to drip antibiotics because contact lens are after all a foreign body and not meant to be in your eyes for prolonged period of time. But I loved the relief when I wore bandage contact lens- I could sleep in peace and did not have to worry about having an episode. However,  it was not a long term solution because even after the cells healed, it was inadvertently tear again 2 weeks down the road after removing the lenses. 

After many false hopes thinking maybe this time it will finally work and countless of google searches, I decided it was time to just get surgery done to solve the problem. I just had Epi-lasik done on my eyes and crossing my fingers that this is a solution that finally works. 

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