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Severe Eye Pain while sleeping
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Severe Eye Pain while sleeping

My husband, while sound asleep, gets severe stabbing pain in his left eye, which makes him bolt upright and he has to get up and keep his eye open to make it go away.  He has been to the eye doctor about this and the doctor said he had something in his cornea and cut it out, then gave him ointment and drops to put in.  My husband faithfully puts the ointment and drops in, but the stabbing pain continues every single night while he sleeps.  A friend who is an optometrist-in-training suggested that perhaps the eye cells that slough off at night and form the "sleep" in the corners of the eye are not coming out but building up under his eyelid and when he is in REM sleep they rub against his eye and this is causing the pain.  Is there anything that can be done about this?  Should he see an ophthalmologist?  I feel so sorry for him -- he can't get a good night's sleep anymore.  Thank you.
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The optometrist is way off base, in fact not even in the ball park.

Your husband's problem sounds like classic "recurrent corneal erosions" which in turn is usually due to previous injury, sleeping with eyelids slightly open or disease of the superficial layer of the cornea (corneal dystrophy).

This is from a preivious post and YES do see an eye MD and ask the MD to look at the eye before any drops put in and tell him/'her you suspect "recurrent corneal eroision syndrome"


You have "recurrent corneal erosion syndrome". The condition is common and will not destroy your sight or cause serious loss of vision. It has been discussed in the past in the eye care forums. It usually starts after a scratched cornea that does not heal properly. In some instances it occurs due to a common disease of the outer layer of the cornea (basement membrane disorder). Use the search feature and type in "corneal erosions".

Here is part of a recent post on the problem:

Recurrent corneal erosions are the bane of the practice of ophthalmology for both the ophthalmologist (Eye MD) and the poor patient. I saw 2 of them in the office today. They can be very difficult and recalcitrant to treat. Not infrequently they are controlled with drops and ointments but reoccur if these medications are stopped. I'm sure you're well versed on the medical and preventive treatment of corneal erosions.

Treatment is to avoid anything that dries the eye. So keep it moist with artificial tears. At bedtime a lubricating drop with normal saline (Muro 128 ointment---available over the counter) is put in the eye.  Extreme care must be used in the morning on awakening as this is when the tissue usually tears. Avoid rubbing the eye. If the eye wants to stay shut from the ointment leave it shut, splash with warm water till it opens then put in an artificial tear or Muro 128 DROPS (available as 2% or 5% [which often stings] also available over the counter. If Muro 128 products are irritation try Refresh-PM ointment at bedtime and a good artificial tear on awakening and several times during the day (Systane, Opteve, Soothe, Refresh, Tears Naturale, etc).

Long plane and car trips are very stressing for corneal erosions. In the car, run the air conditioner or heater on the feet vents not into the face. Put artificial tears in the eye every couple of hours on a car trip and every hour on a plane trip.

You should go a minimum of 4 months without any pain from the erosion (usually during sleep or upon wakening) before trying to stop the ointment. Be aware that some people are never able to stop the medications and must use drops, ointments and precautions indefinitely (years and years).

The next step is often corneal stromal micro-punctures. This is an office procedure done with just eye drop anesthesia; a bandage contact lens is put in the eye for several days. You may return to normal physical activities immediately.  

If the problem persists then you may need to discuss these treatments with your ophthalmologist. He/she should be able to do the first method. The second he/she may or may not be able to do, sometimes referral to a cornea specialist is indicated.

1. There is a new method of treatment when all else fails. It involves taking oral tetracycline for a couple of weeks coupled with steroid eye drops. If your ophthalmologist is not familiar with the method he/she can do a literature search of the medical ophthalmology journals. The first time I read of it was in the journal "Ophthalmology". I have used this method on two patients that were "at their wits end and had tried everything else. In both cases it worked. I still have them use an ointment at bedtime such as Muro 128 or Genteal Gel but the severe pain has stopped.

2. The last technique would be to use the eximer laser to "resurface" the corneal epithelium and soft contact lens wear during the healing. This technique is most often used when the cornea has disease that keeps causing the erosions, the most common of these is corneal epithelial basement membrane disorder.

Keep trying and good luck.
Hi Dave and Bree.
I to face this same problem Chronic corneal erosion for 3 years now. I have been through everything that Doctor Hagon has talked about except the corneal stromal micro-punctures. I have been treated at least 5 times for an emergency contact lens on my left eye. Painful Painful ordeal in the morning. I have had the eximer laser to "resurface" the corneal epithelium "aka" ptk done,This treatment did nothing for me.  i have tried ever kind of ointment and drops. i have been on the doxycyclene now for 2 months  and before that 3 months of the tetracycline when i first started to see the ophthalmologist a year ago. My doc has me on Doxycyline now with the muro 128 ointment at night, this seems to be working good for me now. I don,t dare forget the ointment at night. you can find the muro 128 at Walgreen drug store for about $22.00 . I am also hypertensive and on diuretics and ace inhibitors . i have become very sodium sensitive which i guess is genetics since the doc tells me that my medications have nothing to do with my dry eye problem.. I did noticed  after eating half a cup of planters dry roasted peanuts with sea salt that i had bad dryness pain in my eyes.So i guess sodium plays a role in drying out the eyes.i have been trying to keep my sodium level below 1000mg a day Good luck to you and anyone else who has this problem. hope this info helps.
P.S I have been to a cornea specialist and all he said is i must have ocular roseasa and that's when i went on the doxy.
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