Skip to main content

Corneal Abrasion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

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.

Eye Anatomy

What causes a corneal abrasion?

  • Contact lenses that do not fit well, are damaged, or are worn too long
  • A scratch or poke from a fingernail or objects such as a pencil or tree branch
  • Objects such as dirt, sand, or metal shavings that get into your eye
  • Rubbing your eyes too hard
  • Chemical or flash burns caused by extreme heat

What are the signs and symptoms of a corneal abrasion?

  • Pain, redness, or swelling of the eye
  • Difficulty opening the eye
  • More tears than usual
  • 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 examine your eye. If you have something in your eye that is scratching your cornea, your healthcare provider will remove it. He or she may put dye in your eye and look at it with a light. The light and dye can help your 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 eyedrops to decrease pain. A small scratch may heal in 1 to 2 days. Deeper or larger scratches may take longer to heal.

What can I do to care for my eyes?

  • Get regular eye exams. Get your eyes checked at least every year.
  • Eat healthy foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins A and C may help with your vision. Foods such as sweet potatoes, apricots, and carrots are rich in nutrients for the eyes.
    Sources of Vitamin A
    Sources of Vitamin C
  • Take care of your contacts or glasses. Store, clean, and use your contacts or glasses as directed. Replace your glasses or contact lenses as often as your healthcare provider suggests.
  • Decrease eye strain. Rest your eyes, especially after you read or use a computer for long periods of time. Get plenty of sleep at night. Use lights that reduce glare in your home, school, or workplace.
  • Wear dark sunglasses. This will help prevent pain and light sensitivity. Make sure the sunglasses have UVA and UVB protection. This will protect your eyes when you go outside.
  • Use eyedrops safely. If your treatment plan includes eyedrops, it is important to use them as directed. Your provider may give you detailed instructions to follow. The eyedrops may also come with safety instructions. Follow all instructions to help prevent an infection. Do not touch the tip of the bottle to your eye. Germs from your eye can spread to the medicine bottle.
    Steps 1 2 3 4

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 fingernails so you cannot scratch your 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 sleep with your contacts in.
  • Do not wear glitter makeup. Glitter can easily get into your eyes and under contact lenses.

When should I call my doctor?

  • 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 healthcare providers 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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Corneal Abrasion

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

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