Recurrent Epithelial Apoptosis is a condition affecting the outermost layer of corneal cells called the epithelium. The problem is caused when the bottom layer of epithelial cells adhere poorly to the cornea, causing them to slough off easily. The pain and discomfort is often quite intense, and similar to a corneal abrasion.

There is usually an underlying disorder that causes recurrent corneal erosions to occur. The most common are: previous corneal injury (corneal abrasion), corneal dystrophy (Map Dot Fingerprint Dystrophy), or corneal disease resulting in recurrent breakdown of the epithelial cells.

Upon awakening, patients often experience severe pain, blurred vision, and light sensitivity when the eyelid pulls the loosened epithelial cells off the cornea. After the cornea heals, the problem recurs as the name implies unless the condition is treated. Recurrent Epithelial Apoptosis may affect one or both eyes, depending on the underlying cause.