Exposure to strong UV light (by sunlight or welding) or mechanical irritation of the cornea (by plants, twigs, nails, damaged contact lenses or deposits on the surface of the lens) may cause erosion of the top layer of the cornea, or epithelium.
Erosion of the corneal epithelium is characterized by severe pain (due to the deterioration of nerve endings), photophobia, excessive lacrimation or by the feeling of something unfamiliar in the eye.
Epithelial cells are capable of rapid regeneration. Re-epithelization usually occurs within 24-48 hours. Treatment of the damage can include the application of cold compresses, application of antibiotic ointments as a prevention of inflammation and sometimes the use of therapeutic contact lenses or a pressure bandage.
The treatment should take place in darkened room.