Published on Oct 10, 2015 and last reviewed on Jan 30, 2023 - 6 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.
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?
Symptoms are present from a few minutes to several days.
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.
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.
It is used for analgesic effects. Anesthetic drugs are Tetracaine and Proparacaine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Generally, a corneal abrasion does not cause permanent damage. It might temporarily cause eye pain and blurred vision.
As a corneal abrasion can get infected, antibiotic eye drops are used. Mostly eye drops containing Erythromycin or Neomycin is used.
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.
It is best to wait at least 7 to 10 days after your symptoms have been relieved before you wear contacts.
A corneal abrasion can result in eyelids swelling.
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.
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:
30 Jan 2023 - 6 min read
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