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How to Relieve the Pain Caused by Corneal Abrasion?

Published on Oct 10, 2015 and last reviewed on Mar 10, 2022   -  5 min read


If there is eye pain, foreign body sensation, or excessive tearing after scratching your eye, it can be a corneal abrasion. Read the below article to know more.

How to Relieve the Pain Caused by Corneal Abrasion?

What Is Corneal Abrasion?

The scratched cornea of the human eye is also known as a corneal abrasion. The cornea is a colored protective layer over the iris and the pupil. The corneal layer is important for vision, filtration of harmful rays such as intense ultraviolet rays, and protection. Corneal injury means injury to the epithelial surface of the eye (most superficial layer). Abrasion is limited to the topmost five layers of the cornea. Any dust or sand particles trapped inside the eyelid lead to scratching of the cornea. Scratching of the cornea leads to pain, heaviness, and discomfort. Eye scratching ranges from small to large abrasion. Although abrasions usually do not cause permanent vision loss or blindness, get a medical second opinion online to rule out other serious complications.

What Causes Corneal Abrasion?

What Are the Precautionary Measures?

Sign and Symptoms of Corneal Scratching

Symptoms are present from a few minutes to several days.

How Is Corneal Abrasion Diagnosed?

Slit-lamp examination and fluorescein instillation are useful to confirm the exact diagnosis. Ocular CT (computed tomography) scans and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are also useful for large erosions. A corneal ulcer is one of the complications. Bacterial culture is necessary before the instillation of antibiotics.

How to Treat Pain Due to Corneal Scratching?

The purpose of treatment is to reduce pain and complications. Healing takes time. Sometimes healing takes more time and also requires extensive treatment.

Treatment is initiated with the removal of contact lenses. The eyes should be washed with cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. If any foreign particles are trapped into eyelids, they will be removed immediately with the help of cotton wool.

Sometimes, the doctor uses a fine needle to remove or lift particles from the eyes. At that time, local anesthetics are used to ease the pain. A doctor can easily remove this because the eye surface is surprisingly very hard. Minor injury takes only 24 to 48 hours for healing. Deeper tissue scratching causes scarring of the cornea, and a corneal transplant treats it.

Local Anesthetics:

It is used for analgesic effects. Anesthetic drugs are Tetracaine and Proparacaine.

  1. Tetracaine - It is used in the form of solution or ointment. It works by blocking impulses to transmit through restriction of sodium permeability into the neuronal membrane. Sodium is an essential part of depolarization (activation of the cell). Its effect start within 1 to 2 minutes and remains upto 30 minutes. Dose - instill two drops in both eyes every 4 hours as required for pain relief.
  2. Proparacaine - It has a less irritating property. It works by providing stability to nerve cells through inhibition of initiation and transmission of impulses into cells due to the impermeability of essential ions. Its effects start within 20 to 30 seconds after application and remain for a maximum of 20 minutes. The dosage is the same as above.

Antibiotic Ointment:

Antibiotic ointments are a very useful and first line of treatment in this case. Its usage is different in contact lenses user and non-contact lenses users.

1. People Not Wearing Contact Lenses:

2. Contact Lens Wearers:

During treatment, the use of contact lenses must be avoided strongly.

What Are the Complications After Abrasion?

There are many complications due to eye abrasion such as scarring, fungal ulcers, amoebic keratitis (corneal infection by amoeba), pseudomonas (one type of bacteria) infection, corneal infiltrates or ulcers (local or diffused grayish area with inflammation and edema around cornea).


Even if a person has a simple eye injury due to scratching, they should consult an eye care ophthalmologist within 24 to 48 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does it take for a corneal abrasion to heal fully?

It usually takes about 2 to 3 days for superficial corneal abrasions to heal, as they tend to recover really fast. But sometimes, if there is an infection, inflammation, and scarring, then it might take longer, as has to be treated with antibiotics and corticosteroids.


Is a corneal abrasion an emergency?

Most corneal abrasions are not serious, and it heals on its own in a couple of days. But if the abrasion is deeper and left untreated, it can result in severe eye infection and corneal ulcer. So, you should consult a doctor to prevent an infection if you suspect corneal abrasion.


How is a corneal abrasion diagnosed and treated?

The doctor will use eye drops to relax the eye muscles to dilate your pupil and to highlight imperfections on the cornea. Then the doctor will use a special eye examination tool to look for scratches. Mild scratches do not need any treatment, but a deep scratch might need treatment with painkiller, antibiotic, and corticosteroid eye drops.


Can a corneal abrasion cause permanent damage?

Generally, a corneal abrasion does not cause permanent damage. It might temporarily cause eye pain and blurred vision.


What medication is used for corneal abrasion?

As a corneal abrasion can get infected, antibiotic eye drops are used. Mostly eye drops containing Erythromycin or Neomycin is used.


How do you know if you have a corneal abrasion?

If your eyes are red, watery, sensitive to light, and if you have blurred vision, headaches, and eye twitching, then there is a good chance that your cornea is abraded.


How long should you wait to wear contacts after corneal abrasion?

It is best to wait at least 7 to 10 days after your symptoms have been relieved before you wear contacts.


Can corneal abrasion cause swelling?

A corneal abrasion can result in eyelids swelling.


How to stop a corneal abrasion from hurting?

Lubricating eye drops can help to keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Dryness is the main cause of pain, so lubricating it will help the pain.


Can you sleep with a corneal abrasion?

You might find it difficult to sleep as your eyes will hurt and irritate. You can use lubricating eye drops to prevent friction and pain.

Last reviewed at:
10 Mar 2022  -  5 min read




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