What is a Corneal Abrasion and How is it Treated?

It can happen to anyone. Whether you wear glasses, contact lenses or have perfect vision – corneal abrasion (also called corneal scratch) happen and hurt. A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea, which is the clear, protective coating over the iris and pupil. Corneal abrasions often occur when something (dirt or sand) gets trapped beneath the eyelid. It can also occur from wearing contact lenses that become dry, dirty or do not fit properly; getting poked in the eye and certain eye infections.

The eye is an extremely sensitive part of the body and a small scratch can feel very painful. When the cornea is scratched, symptoms appear immediately. Some symptoms include a foreign body feeling in the eye, eye pain, tearing and redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision and a headache.

Since one of the first things people notice is a foreign body sensation, it is important to remember not to rub your eye. Instead, blink your eye several times. Pull the upper and lower lid back to see if there is any debris trapped in it. Rinse the eye with clean water or saline solution. Again, do not rub the eye as this can make matters worse.

If the symptoms do not go away, you should schedule an appointment with your eye care provider as soon as possible. Your eye doctor will be able to remove any debris that may be trapped and provide appropriate treatment. Antibiotic eye drops are often prescribed due to the increased risk of eye infection because of the cut on the surface of the cornea. They may also prescribe drops to ease pain and reduce inflammation.

Thankfully, the cornea is a very quick to heal. Minor scratches tend to heal on their own in 1 to 3 days.  Contact lenses should be avoided until the eye is completely healed.

If you have any questions about corneal abrasions, please call our office at (919) 876-2427. If you suffer from recurrent abrasions and would like to discuss alternatives such as LASIK or PRK, click here.