To study the effect of patching on the speed of reepithelialization, slit-lamp signs of epithelial wound healing, and patient discomfort following a corneal abrasion.
Forty-eight eyes of 46 patients with corneal erosion sparing Bowman membrane were randomized into 2 groups: with or without patching. Slit-lamp examination and photographs of the fluorescein-stained cornea were performed on a daily basis until reepithelialization was complete. Photographs were analyzed using computer-assisted planimetry.
No statistically significant difference was found between patched (n=25) and nonpatched (n=22) eyes for the mean size of the initial erosion (patched eyes, 23.7 mm2; nonpatched eyes, 18.9 mm2; P=.42), linear speed of reepithelialization (reduction over time of the radius of the largest circle included in the erosion: patched eyes, 0.0375 mm/h; nonpatched eyes, 0.0353 mm/h; P=.78), and surface speed of reepithelialization (reduction over time of the erosion area: patched eyes, 0.6510 mm2/h; nonpatched eyes, 0.5657 mm2/h; P=.60). The power to detect a 12-hour delay of epithelial closure was 95%. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups for pain, analgesia, insomnia, aspect of the epithelial border, intensity and duration of stromal edema, Descemet folds, anterior uveitis, and filaments.
Patching a corneal erosion does not significantly accelerate reepithelialization and does not alter the epithelial wound healing pattern. It does not reduce the incidence and severity of inflammation nor relieve pain when compared with treatment without patching.