Corneal Abrasion: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Corneal abrasion diagram

A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the cornea, the dome-shaped window covering over the colored part of the eye.

It occurs most often from a foreign body such as piece of dust, sawdust, a grain of sand or an ill-fitting contact lens.

The cornea helps to refract (bent) light that enters the eye to properly focus on the retina (back of the eye).

The cornea is important for both protection and vision. Any scratches or deformities to the cornea will affect clear vision.

You can often feel prominent pain from the disruptions as the cornea contains many nerve endings under its surface. 

Most abrasions heal within a few days, although injuries from a plant material or very dirty substance may take longer.

It is extremely important to seek professional help if you get any organic materials in your eye as they may cause infection that can result in corneal ulcer which can be devastating to your vision.




Common Causes

There are many ways that can cause abrasion to the cornea.

  • Chemical burns
  • Accidents during eye surgery 
  • Children often accidentally poke the eyes of whoever is playing with or holding them
  • Foreign matter such as sand, dirt and dust getting caught under your eyelid
  • Something hitting the eye such as punch, hitting against a tree bunch and sports injuries
  • Burning ash from cigarettes that is flying in the air
  • Eye injury from high speed equipments that cause fragment into the eyes
  • Bigger debris getting into the eye for example plant matter and sawdust
  • Rubbing your eyes excessively when your eye is irritated
  • Wearing contact lens longer than recommended period of time especially if you sleep in contacts
  • Certain eye infections may cause injury to the surface of the cornea
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight, sun lamps, snow or water reflections, or arc-welding can cause alteration to the cornea that represent an abrasion


Symptoms

Corneal Abrasion

Corneal abrasion is unforgettable. 

The amount of pain and discomfort you feel is likely to stay vivid in your memory for a very long time.

Even when the foreign body is no longer present, you may feel some discomfort when the eyelid passes over the scrape. 

Check out for these symptoms and avoid rubbing your eyes at all cost to prevent worsening the condition:

  • Feeling of something is in your eye
  • Pain in the eye especially when blinking
  • Watery eye or tearing profusely
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Redness in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Spasm of the muscles surrounding your eye causing you to squint

Symptoms of corneal abrasion do not necessary show up immediately. Which is why, sometimes it may be difficult to know what caused the abrasion.




First Aid For Corneal Abrasion

A minor uncomplicated abrasion usually takes up to 2 days to heal completely. 

The most important thing which you should do is not to rub your eyes as it can worsen the abrasion.

Try to wash out the debris by rinsing your affected eye with saline solution or clean water.

Then process to see an eye doctor to remove any embedded debris in your eye.

Once the all the foreign objects are removed, treatments often involve minimizing the risk of infection and scarring by applying antibiotic eye drops or ointment and steroid.

To find out more, check out treatments for corneal abrasion.


Prevention

It is estimated that there are 500,000 eye injuries in United States every year. And 90% of such injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear.

Start wearing protective eyewear when performing activities that put your eyes at risk of injury. 


Related Readings:

› Corneal Abrasion