The cornea is the clear, outer window of the eye. A corneal abrasion is simply a scratch in the epithelium (skin), or the thin, outer layer of the cornea. Abrasions usually heal in a short time period, sometimes within hours. Deeper or larger scratches may take up to a week. The cornea has a tremendous number of nerve endings, which makes any damage to the cornea very painful.
Symptoms of corneal abrasions:
- History of recent eye trauma
- Watery eyes
- Acute pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- The feeling that there is something in your eye
- Pain upon awakening in one's eye
Causes of corneal abrasions:
- Foreign object in the eye
- Contact lenses
- Blow to the eye
- Scratched eye (fingernails, hairbrushes, tree branches, etc).
Diagnosing corneal abrasions:
Only your eye doctor can identify corneal abrasions by examining your eyes with special instruments. Your doctor will check your eye, including under your eyelid, to make sure there are no foreign materials present.
Treating corneal abrasions:
Occasionally the eye will have to be patched, but modern day therapy for abrasions usually involves leaving the eye open and prescribing antibiotics to help prevent infection and pain medication for comfort. Sometimes a contact lens is placed in the eye as a temporary bandage to help the abrasion resolve more quickly. It is important that you do not rub your eye, especially during the healing process. Following specific doctor instructions is also critical, including keeping follow up appointments.
Care examination and close follow-up is essential to ensure a corneal abrasion does not develop into a corneal ulcer.