A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the clear front layer of the eye.
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Some causes are:
This problem is more common in people who wear contact lenses. It is also more common in men and people who are between 20 and 34 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. An eye exam will be done. The doctor will look for any unusual 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.
Most abrasions heal in 1 to 3 days. Large scratches may take up to 4 to 5 days to heal. A cool compress and artificial tears can help ease discomfort. Contact lenses should not be worn.
Treatment choices are:
To lower the risk of a corneal abrasion:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Optometric Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Ahmed F, House RJ, et al. Corneal abrasions and corneal foreign bodies. Prim Care. 2015 Sep;42(3):363-375.
Corneal abrasion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/corneal-abrasion . Updated April 29, 2019. Accessed May 1, 2020.
Corneal abrasions. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
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Updated November 9, 2017. Accessed May 1, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 05/01/2020