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Corneal Abrasion

What is it?

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea of your eye. The cornea is the clear layer that covers the front of your eye. A small scratch may heal in 1 to 2 days. Deeper or larger scratches may take longer to heal.

Lateral cut-away of the Right Eye

What causes a corneal abrasion?

  • Contact lenses that do not fit well or are worn too long

  • A scratch or poke from a fingernail or objects like a pencil or tree branch

  • Tiny particles like dirt, sand, or metal shavings that go into your eye

  • Rubbing your eyes too hard

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain

  • More tears than usual

  • Redness

  • A feeling that you have something in your eye

  • Blurred vision

  • Sensitivity to bright light

  • Headache

How is a corneal abrasion diagnosed?

Your doctor will use instruments to look into your eye. If you have something in your eye that is scratching your cornea, the doctor will remove it. Your doctor may put a special dye in your eye. Then the doctor will look at your eye with a lighted instrument. The light and dye can help your doctor see how badly your eye has been scratched.

How is a corneal abrasion treated?

You may be given antibiotic eyedrops or ointment to help prevent an eye infection. You may be given eyedrops, ointment, or medicine by mouth to help control your pain. Depending on the type of corneal abrasion, your doctor may or may not put a patch on your eye. Do not rub your eyes. Do not wear contact lenses until your doctor tells you that it is okay to do so. You may need to see your doctor again for a recheck.

How can I help prevent corneal abrasions?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions carefully for proper use of contact lens. Do not wear your contacts for longer than your doctor or package instructions tell you to. Remove your contact lenses if your eyes feel dry or irritated.

  • Never wear contact lenses that you did not get with a doctor's order. This includes colored lenses or lenses with shapes on them that are sold in gas stations, stores, or beauty shops. These lenses may cause bad eye damage and vision loss.

  • Do not rub your eyes.

  • Wash your hands if you need to touch or do something near your eyes. This includes putting in contact lenses, eye medicines, or applying makeup.

  • Keep children's fingernails trimmed short.

  • Do not wear glitter makeup. Glitter can easily get into your eyes and under contact lenses.

  • Wear protective eyewear when doing jobs that cause particles like wood, dust, metal, or sparks to fly. Wear protective eyewear while working with chemicals or in school science labs.

  • Wear protective eyewear when playing most sports. This includes wrestling and ball sports such as baseball, racquet sports, and basketball. Use eye protectors that meet the American Society of Testing and Materials standards. Some of these sports also require wearing a helmet.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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