Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome (RCES) is caused by repeated episodes of corneal epithelial breakdown due to improper adherence of the corneal epithelium to the underlying basement membrane. The most common aetiologies are corneal dystrophy or previous superficial ocular trauma. The incidence and prevalence of the condition is currently unknown. This study aimed to determine the incidence and prevalence of RCES within the London population over a 5-year period in order to better inform clinicians and evaluate how this condition affects ophthalmic service provision.
A retrospective cohort study over a 5-year period reviewed 487,690 emergency room patient attendances at Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH) London between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2019. MEH caters for a local population comprising of around ten regional clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). The data for this study were collected using OpenEyes electronic medical records including demographics and comorbidities. The CCGs encompass 41% (3,689,000) of London’s total 8,980,000 inhabitants. Using these data the crude incidence and prevalence rates of disease were estimated with results reported per 100,000 population.
Out of 330,684 patients, 3623 patients were given a new diagnosis of RCES by the emergency ophthalmology services, and from these, 1056 patients attended outpatient follow-up. The crude annual incidence of RCES was estimated at 25.4 per 100,000, with a crude prevalence rate of 0.96%. There was no statistical difference in annual incidence across the 5-year period.
The period prevalence of 0.96% shows that RCES is not uncommon. There was also a stable annual incidence over the 5-year period, showing no changing trend over the study period. However, identifying the true incidence and period prevalence is a challenging task, as minor cases may heal prior to examination by an ophthalmologist. It is highly likely that RCES is underdiagnosed and therefore underreported.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.