A corneal abrasion is a scratch to the epithelium of the cornea that is the transparent front portion of the eye. The cornea is made up of five layers and epithelium is the outermost layer of the cornea that is exposed to the environment.

This scratch may be due to multiple reasons and leads to pain and irritation. It is an eye emergency situation and any delay will cause heavy loss to your eye health. So make sure to follow the initial guidelines that we discussed in Eye injury: Do’s and Don’ts Emergency Tips” and visit an emergency eye care center as soon as possible.

Scratched eye, Structure of Cornea
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Symptoms of a scratched cornea

If you don’t have any prior encounter with corneal abrasion then you might experience:

    • Pain and irritation in your eye.
    • Feeling of some foreign object in your eye.
    • Tearing.
    • Redness.
    • Blurred vision.
    • More sensitivity toward the light.
    • Itchy eye.
    • Headache in some cases.

As our eye is the very sensitive part of our body specifically the cornea it’s due to the fact that the number of pain receptors in our eye is huge as compared to the rest body and the cornea is 500 times more densely innervated than skin means even a relatively small abrasion can cause significant discomfort to our eye therefore if you suspected that you have corneal abrasion then without wasting any more time go to an eye care professional immediately.


Causes of corneal abrasion

A commonly corneal abrasion occurs after minor trauma to the eye and there may be a number of different causes of getting a scratch on the cornea some of them are:

    • Foreign objects in our eye like dust particles, small pieces of metal, or anything, ash.
    • Rubbing eye too hard.
    • Fingernails.
    • Tree branches.
    • Heavy wind and dust.
    • Accidents and traumatic events.
    • Contact lenses: Wearing contact lenses for long or sleeping with them sometimes cause them to stick to your eye and when we remove them with force may cause corneal abrasion sometimes.
    • Dirty and dusty contact lenses also cause scratches on the cornea.
    • Dry eyes and corneal abrasion: A person with dry eyes is more susceptible to scratched eye because in case of dry eyes eyelids stick to the cornea while sleeping and when that person tries to open his/her eyes in the morning eyelid rub on the cornea surface and create a scratch.
    • Chemical and some type of eye allergy.


How to react in case of a corneal abrasion?


    • Rinse your eye with clean water: If you feel something irritating in your eye then this is the first step you must have to follow.
    • After rinsing blink your eye several times to make sure that a foreign object is out of your eye. If not then look for medical assistance immediately.


    • Never rub your eye in situations when you feel something in your eye.
    • If after rinsing you continue to feel that unwanted object in your eye then does not try further by yourself and look immediately for the eye care professional.
    • Never apply pressure on your eye.
    • If you start feeling irritation after putting on your contact lenses then immediately remove them and wash your eyes with clean water.
    • Do not apply any patch on your eye because this increases bacterial growth that can cause an eye infection.


How is a corneal abrasion diagnosed?

When you see an eye care professional for a corneal abrasion then he/she will perform a slit-lamp examination using fluorescein dye that is a special eye drop used by an eye care professional to identify abrasion by highlighting the surface of the cornea and then examine under the special lamp and magnification tools.

In case of extreme pain, you may receive a corneal anesthetic to temporarily reduce pain or maybe some eye drops to relax your eye muscles. The doctor also examines for any foreign particles and eye infections.


Treatment for corneal abrasion

    • As abrasion is open doors to infections so you may typically get an antibiotic eye drop prescription from your eye care professional to prevent new infections to your eyes.
    • Eye drops or medication to reduce pain and redness in the eye.
    • Sometimes an antibiotic ointment is prescribed instead of or in addition to drops this provides the additional role of providing the soothing surface while the abrasion heals.
    • Every time you blink your eye it rubs against abrasion so this ointment or the gel helps to reduce that impact and reduce your pain.
    • You may get a prescription of slightly stronger antibiotics if the abrasion is due to contact lenses because contact lens wearers are at more risk of eye infection.
    • Bandage contact lenses also used in some cases because they speed up the healing process and also, help in pain relief.

It takes 1 to 5 days for a corneal abrasion to heal.

Corneal Abrasion home treatment

    • Rinse your eye with clean water or a saline solution for about 10 minutes.
    • Blink several times to remove any dust particles from your eyes.
    • If you still feel something in your eye then without wasting any more time look for an eye care professional.

3 Ways to prevent corneal abrasion

A corneal abrasion is prevented by using very simple and common precautions. These precautions are as follows:

1. Use of Safety goggles or glasses:

    • While working in a dusty environment.
    • During heavy industrial work.
    • Working in a strong wind.

2. Clean your contact lenses before wearing them.

3. To prevent corneal abrasion due to dry eyes use proper dry eye drops for your eye.



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