I Have Recurring Corneal Erosion Syndrome – What The Shit?

My daughter, for as long as she’s been able to move her arms and grab things, has held our ears for comfort. Even now – she’s two and a half – she’ll demand “EAR! EAR!” if she needs to ‘recharge’, as we call it.


When she was smaller and we’d read stories and settle her before bed, she’d quickly reach up behind her, searching for an ear. Three separate times in the space of about a year she reached blindly and thumbed me directly in the right eye. Thumbnail first. Oh dear God, those tiny, razor sharp toddler thumbnails. The pain of eye trauma is unique and comes in waves. All three times I thought I was going to vomit.

The pain subsided after a night’s sleep each time, with the assistance of painkillers and ice. But since the last incident I’ve had ongoing problems with my eye. I’ve regularly woken up in the night feeling like my eyeball is stuck, and simply moving my eyeball (close your eyes now and try not to move your bloody eyeballs!) would quickly spark intense pain and tears making it very difficult to sleep.

After several relatively unhelpful visits to local doctors and optometrists, I finally went to the Eye and Ear Hospital in the city and got a diagnosis! Recurring Corneal Erosion Syndrome. It sounds bad but put simply, due to ‘mechanical trauma’ (EG: a thumb to the fucking eye) the cornea gets damaged, and this tends to dry out the eye. The cornea can then stick to the eyelid, and separating them too quickly can cause more damage to the cornea… a vicious cycle. Treatment is pretty simple: gel and drops in the eye every day.

Every time I go through a relatively obtuse but non-life-threatening medical incident I wonder: how the hell did people manage to get through this kind of thing 100 years ago? 800 years ago? We’re extremely fortunate to be living when and where we live. To be able to wander into a building that’s packed to the rafters with experts and walk out with a solution to my problem is incredible, and we take it for granted.

A few thoughts as I move forward with my life and hopefully out of eye-hell.

Advice for prospective parents: your kids will beat the hell out of you.

Yes, even when they’re babies. They’ll swing their arms around, flail wildly, hang from your neck, kick you in the balls, pinch you, poke your fucking eyes, jump on you, jump off you, and play the drums on your head with cutlery. And more. Yes, even the babies. If you have your first newborn in the house: beware. You weren’t previously living in a house where the other residents were learning to do things like breathe or use their muscles for the first time. You are now.

Medical science is incredible.

Not only did I get a prompt diagnosis, I was prescribed a course of treatment, and the ingredients of the medicine for my eye sound like the names of an alien’s stepmother. It’s absolutely gob smacking to me how completely idiotic humans can be, and yet we have centuries upon centuries of learning and discovery that has progressively protected us, and kept us safe, and healed us faster and better, and stopped us from dying as easily. The next time you get great medical treatment, take a little time to really appreciate it.

Donate to a medical charity. Today.

I live in Australia where most healthcare is free and the standard of care is high, but many people don’t have access to basic health services and care. Our family regularly donates to Doctors Without Borders. Do a quick bit of research and choose a medical/health charity to send a few dollars to a few times a year.