A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea. The cornea is the clear, front surface of the eye. It is located directly in front of the colored part of the eye.
The cornea has several layers that help protect the eye. Some corneal abrasions may form a scar and permanently impair vision.
Most corneal abrasions happen as a result of:
Factors that may increase your risk of corneal abrasion include:
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms. An eye exam will be done. The doctor will look for any foreign objects in the eye. Drops may also be placed in your eye to make you more comfortable. It can also make the scratch more visible under a special light.
Minor scratches usually heal within 1-2 days. In some cases, your eye doctor will place a contact lens in the eye to help relieve the discomfort and improve healing. The doctor will likely ask you to come back often to make sure the scratch is healing. You may be referred to an eye specialist for large or deep scratches.
Treatment may include:
The doctor will remove the foreign object. This may be done by flushing the eye with saline or by using a cotton swab, needle, or other tool.
Medications may include:
Always go to an eye doctor immediately if your eye is bothering you. Steps that you may be to follow include:
Prevention aims to avoid injury to the cornea. To avoid injuring the cornea:
If something gets in your eye:
If an object strikes your eye at a fast pace, it can be a medical emergency. Seek medical attention immediately.
If a chemical splashes into your eyes, flush your eyes immediately and call 911.
If you do have eye pain or a foreign object, consider seeing an eye specialist immediately rather than going to the emergency room. However, if you have a severe injury or chemical splash, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Optometric Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Canadian Health Network
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DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.epnet.com/dynamed/what.php : Turner A, Rabiu M. Patching for corneal abrasion. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews . 2006;(2). No: CD004764. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004764.pub2.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/26/2012
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