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Corneal Abrasion


What is a corneal abrasion?

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 get into your eye
  • Rubbing your eyes too hard

What are the signs and symptoms of a corneal abrasion?

  • 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 healthcare provider will use an instrument to examine your eye. If you have something in your eye that is scratching your cornea, your healthcare provider will remove it. He may put a special dye in your eye and look at it with a lighted instrument. The light and dye can help your healthcare provider see if your cornea 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 also be given medicine in the form of eye drops to decrease pain. Do not rub your eyes. Do not wear contact lenses until your healthcare provider tells you that it is okay. Wear sunglasses in bright light until your eyes feel better.

How can I help prevent corneal abrasions?

  • Remove your contact lenses if your eyes feel dry or irritated.
  • Wash your hands if you need to touch your eyes or your face.
  • Trim your child's fingernails so he cannot scratch his eye.
  • Wear protective eyewear when you work with chemicals, wood, dust, or metal.
  • Wear protective eyewear when you play sports.
  • Do not wear your contacts for longer than you should.
  • Do not wear colored lenses or lenses with shapes on them. These lenses may cause eye damage and vision loss.
  • Do not wear glitter makeup. Glitter can easily get into your eyes and under contact lenses.
  • Do not sleep with your contacts.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your eye pain or vision gets worse.
  • You have yellow or green drainage from your eye.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Corneal Abrasion

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Symptoms and treatments