by Debra Wood, RN
A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea. The cornea is the clear, front surface of the eye. It sits in front of the colored part of the eye.
The cornea is several layers thick that help to protect the eye.
Most corneal abrasions happen because of:
Seek medical attention right away:
If there is no eye pain or a foreign object, consider seeing an eye specialist right away instead of going to the emergency room.
Factors that may increase the risk of corneal abrasion include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. An eye exam will be done. The doctor will look for any foreign objects in the eye. Drops of a special dye may be placed in the eye. The dye will make it easier to see a scratch when seen under a special blue light.
Minor scratches usually heal within 1-2 days. Some severe scratches may form a scar and cause a permanent reduction in vision. An eye specialist may be needed to treat large or deep scratches.
Treatment may include:
Removing a Foreign Object
The foreign object may need to be removed. This may be done by flushing the eye with sterile fluid. The doctor may need a cotton swab, needle, or other tool to remove the object.
Medications may include:
See an eye doctor for eye problems that persist. Other self-care steps that may help include:
The doctor may place a special contact lens in the eye. It may help to relieve the discomfort and improve healing.
The eye will be monitored to make sure the scratch is healing.
To decrease the risk of injury to the cornea:
If something gets in the eye:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Optometric Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Corneal abrasion. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115957/Corneal-abrasion . Updated December 20, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2018.
Corneal abrasions. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated November 2017. Accessed February 12, 2018
7/1/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115957/Corneal-abrasion : Turner A, Rabiu M. Patching for corneal abrasion. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(2):CD004764.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 3/29/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.