Corneal Abrasions and How to Handle Them

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the eye’s cornea. The cornea is important for vision and protecting the eye and can cause pain and discomfort when scratched. Most corneal abrasions will heal within 3 days; however there is an increased risk of infection if left untreated.


There are manycauses of corneal abrasion which include:

  • Foreign particles such as dirt, sand, ash blowing into the eye
  • Improper fitting of contact lenses
  • Being poked in the eye
  • Rubbing the eye aggressively


Symptoms of corneal abrasions include:

  • Uncomfortable feeling of a foreign object in the eye
  • Pain especially when opening or closing the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing and redness

When you experience a corneal abrasion it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Other things you can do include:

  1. Rinsing your eye with clean water or saline solution but do not rub the eye while rinsing it
  2. Blinking several times (you may notice difficulty keeping your eyes open)
  3. Pull your upper eyelid over the lower eyelid

These will help you rinse away foreign particles in the eye. It is important to not try to remove anything that is on the cornea. Only a doctor should do this to prevent further injury.


Treatment depends on the severity of a corneal abrasion.

  • A doctor can prescribe an antibiotic eye drop or ointment to prevent infection from a corneal abrasion. Medicated eye drops may also be prescribed to help ease inflammation and discomfort.
  • A patch can be worn on the eye temporarily.
  • Avoid contact lenses until the eye is completely healed and cleared by the doctor.

A minor corneal abrasion should heal in one to three days. More severe abrasions may take longer. If you experience a corneal abrasion, please contact the Raleigh Eye Center as soon as possible to relieve discomfort.