Alcohol-assisted epithelial debridement for treatment of recurrent corneal erosion: a case series

Leslie KL Cheng, Vanissa WS Chow, Brian MK Yiu


Purpose: Recurrent corneal erosion is characterized by recurrent episodes of spontaneous breakdown of the corneal epithelium. Alcohol delamination of the corneal epithelium has a high success rate, but the procedure requires the use of an operating microscope in an operating theater. We present a case series of alcohol assisted epithelial debridement in the clinic setting.

Methods: Records of eight consecutive patients aged >18 years who presented to a private ophthalmology practice clinic in Hong Kong between October 2012 and March 2018 with recurrent corneal erosion that did not respond well to conservative or surgical management with persistent symptoms of >3 months were retrospectively reviewed. 75% alcohol was applied directly to the site of abnormal epithelium under slit lamp, followed by debridement of the epithelium using a surgical sponge. A bandage contact lens was then inserted. Patients were followed up until complete healing of the epithelial defect.

Results: All eight patients achieved complete healing of the epithelial defect within 2 weeks with no major complication or recurrence.

Conclusion: Alcohol-assisted epithelial debridement is simple, safe, and effective for the treatment of recurrent corneal erosion. It can be performed in a clinic setting under slit lamp.

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