A corneal abrasion occurs if the cornea is scraped or scratched by any foreign object such as a fingernail, tree branch or contact lens. It is important to note that the cornea is the transparent area in the middle of the front part of the eye.
How is it diagnosed?
Most are aware when something scrapes the eye. In case the eye hurts after, it might be a corneal abrasion. Even a minor injury to the cornea can be painful.
One might have an abrasion without realizing it. This can occur when taking out a contact lens but it is not actually on the eye. Even rubbing a finger directly on the cornea can result to a small scrape.
It is vital to have an injury assessed by the doctor if:
- Blurry vision occurs after any injury to the eye
- A new eye pain arises that does not settle within minutes or hours
- There is a sensation of something in the eye
- The eye becomes highly sensitive to bright lights
- There is a foreign object in the eye such as small particles, dirt or a splinter
Management of a corneal abrasion
If an individual is diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, he/she should avoid rubbing the eyes. Once a doctor is consulted, the appropriate treatment can be started.
The doctor will assess the eye and remove any objects present. Anesthetic eye drops are applied to make the procedure comfortable.
Generally, a small abrasion heals in a few days. The doctor might prescribe eye drops to keep the eye lubricated as well as lower the risk for infection. It is vital to use these drops as prescribed. It might also be necessary to stop using contact lenses for a while. For larger abrasions, they take a longer time to heal.
Oral pain medications might be given for individuals suffering from extreme pain or light sensitivity until the corneal abrasion has healed. There are also topical numbing medications that might be given in the doctor’s clinic to allow further assessment and treatment.
Do the abrasions heal fully?
A corneal abrasion typically heals without causing other issues. Even after the original injury has recuperated, the surface of the cornea is sometimes not as smooth as before the injury. In some cases, the eye feels irritated again after the abrasion has healed.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on corneal abrasion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage eye injuries including an abrasion, register for a first aid and CPR course with Toronto First Aid.