What Is a Corneal Abrasion?
The cornea is a thin, transparent dome that covers the eye's
iris (the colored part of the eye) and pupil (the black center of the eye). All
the light that enters your eye and enables you to see first strikes the cornea.
Flying dust, specks of metal or sand, a fingernail, an
animal claw, or other foreign objects may cause a scratch on the cornea. Contact
lenses may also scratch or irritate the cornea. A minor scratch is called a
An infected corneal abrasion may become a corneal ulcer. Sometimes plant matter
in the eye causes an inflammation called iritis.
These are serious conditions that can develop from a corneal abrasion.
How Can I Prevent Corneal Abrasion?
To prevent eye injuries, wear protective eyewear while
mowing the lawn and working with tools. People who work around chemicals and
welding gear should always wear goggles or other eye protection.
What Are the Symptoms of a Corneal Abrasion?
The cornea contains many nerve endings, so even a minor scratch may feel very
uncomfortable and painful. It may feel as though there is something large and
rough in the eye.
Most corneal abrasions are minor and heal quickly. If you
have sudden eye pain with tears and rapid blinking, you may have a scratched
cornea and should see your doctor as soon as possible.
How Is a Corneal Abrasion Diagnosed?
Your doctor will treat you with drops to relax the eye
muscles and widen the pupil. You will also receive fluorescent drops that will
highlight imperfections in the corneal surface. You will also often receive a
corneal anesthetic to temporarily ease the pain. Then your doctor will
carefully examine the eye, using a lamp and magnification tools, to determine
whether a foreign body is in the eye.
Immediately after a corneal abrasion, you can try to rinse
your eye with clean water or saline solution. Blinking several times may remove
sand or grit from the eye. Do not rub your eye or touch your eyeball.
What Is the Treatment for Corneal Abrasion?
After a diagnosis of corneal abrasion, your doctor will decide
whether you need a topical antibiotic to treat an existing infection. If the
abrasion is more severe, you may receive a prescription for drops to relieve
pain and sensitivity to light. Some sufferers of corneal abrasions receive a
prescription for pain medication. In most cases, the cornea heals quickly,
usually within several days.