A corneal abrasion is a type of eye injury that involves the clear, transparent tissue in front of the eye called the cornea. The cornea covers and protects the colored part in front of the eye called the iris. The cornea also helps to focus the light that enters the eye and thus aids in vision. A corneal abrasion occurs when the cornea gets scratched, cut, or brushed up by something. It is a common eye injury, especially in infants and children. It may happen when there is an entry of dust or sand into the eye or when an object like a pencil tip or fingernail gets brushed up against the cornea while working or playing. Repeated rubbing of the eyes due to vision problems or dryness in the eyes can also cause a corneal abrasion. A corneal abrasion can also occur due to an eye infection, exposure to the ultraviolet light from welding arcs or sun lamps, and wearing a contact lens for too long. A corneal abrasion is quite painful since the cornea is richly supplied by nerves. With prompt medical treatment, the abrasions generally heal quickly without any long-term complications.
What are the symptoms of a corneal abrasion?
The symptoms of a corneal abrasion include:
- Pain in the eye
- Foreign body sensation (feeling that there is something in your eye)
- Redness in the eye
- Increased tear discharge from the eye
- Increased sensitivity to light
- The blurring of vision in the affected eye
How do you treat a corneal abrasion at home?
You must consult an ophthalmologist if you have a corneal abrasion. Although corneal abrasions are usually minor and heal on their own, a corneal abrasion can result in scarring of the cornea, which can perturb your vision forever. No matter how minor you may think the abrasion is, seek urgent medical help and get your eye examined by the doctor. Before you get medical help, you may follow the following tips at home for managing your corneal abrasion:
- Rinse the affected eye with clean water or saline solution: Rinsing the eye helps remove any foreign body including dirt from the eye. Take saline solution or clean water in an eyecup, a bowl, or glass. Rest the bowl under the lower eyelid on the rim of the eyecup or glass so that the front of the eyeball is in the water.
- Blink repeatedly: Blinking can help remove dirt and other foreign particles from the eye. It also stimulates the tear gland that helps to clean and lubricate the eye.
- Pull the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid: Do it in such a way that the lashes on the lower eyelid come under the under-surface of the upper eyelid. This will help increase tear formation and the removal of any particles from the eye.
- Do not rub the eye: Rubbing can cause further injury.
- Do not touch the eye: Touching the eye using your fingers and q-tips or cotton swabs can worsen the abrasion. It can also cause serious infections.
- Wear sunglasses: This will give comfort to the eye in bright lights or outdoors.
- Do not use any over the counter eye drops: Over the counter eye drops will not help to treat the abrasion. You must visit the ophthalmologist because they will prescribe the required eye drops or ointments. They may also put you on an eye patch to give comfort to the affected eye and speed-up the healing.
- Do not wear a contact lens: Wearing a contact lens can further increase the injury and the risk of infection.
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Harvard Health Publishing. Corneal Abrasion. January 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/corneal-abrasion-a-to-z
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