A corneal abrasion is a quite common eye injury. Which means that it has most likely also happened to you at some point in your life. It consists of a scratch on your cornea or your general eye area, and it can have multiple causes. But there are also ways in which you can treat it, or even prevent it. Today, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about a corneal abrasion, from the causes behind it, to the symptoms, possible treatments, and ways to avoid getting one. Let’s begin!
What Is a Corneal Abrasion?
Like we’ve mentioned above, a corneal abrasion is a scratch that you get on your eye, more often than not on your cornea. It can happen instantly, and even if you feel your entire eye hurting, it is your cornea, the clear part that covers the iris and shields the pupil, that is most likely affected. The cornea is what allows you to see, since it focuses light in your eye. So anything that disturbs it might cause vision problems that you’d like to avoid. The cornea can become disrupted or get scraped away because of some exterior force, which can cause either small or large abrasions. While most people tend to ignore this eye injury, it is good to know what to expect from it and what you should do about it.
Causes of Corneal Abrasion
There are a lot of things that can cause a scratched cornea, since anything that touches it can cause some sort of damage to it as well. You can scratch your cornea with something more palpable, such as a makeup brush, a tree branch, paper, sports equipment, and so on. But you can also scratch it without realizing, when it comes into contact with dust, sand, or other types of small particles. In this case, if you feel a discomfort in your eye and you rub it, it could make matters worse.
It is also worth mentioning that you can get a corneal abrasion even if you wear contact lenses. Because they don’t protect your eye against a foreign object. Even more so, if you wear your contacts for too long or if you damage them in any way, it may even increase the risk of a corneal abrasion.
But what are some other causes of a scratched cornea? Well, you can get a scratch on your cornea if you rub your eyes too much. Or if you get some sort of chemicals in your eye, or an eye infection. Eye surgery without adequate protection can also lead to a corneal abrasion. And so can exposing your eyes to ultraviolet light without protecting them.
Symptoms of Corneal Abrasion
The most common symptom associated with a corneal abrasion is pain. Not matter how small the particle that got into contact with your cornea, since this part of your eye is extremely sensitive, the pain will feel as if a much larger and rougher object is lodged into your eye.
Apart from the feeling of pain and the sensation of a foreign object stuck in your eye, you can also experience headaches, blurry vision, redness, light sensitivity, tearing, eye twitching, or even nausea. All these symptoms may occur exactly after something came in contact with your cornea. But they can also start hours after the incident.
Can You Prevent a Corneal Abrasion?
But if you feel something in your eye, is there something you can do to prevent getting an eye scratch and require medical attention? The answer is yes, you can prevent a corneal abrasion. The first thing you might want to do is rub your eye. But as we’ve already established, this can only further the damage. Another thing you don’t want to do is patch the area, since this can increase the risk of an infection.
But here is what you can do instead. Try blinking several times to eliminate the foreign particle on your cornea. Or try pulling your upper eyelid over your lower one. You can also rinse your eye with water or a special saline solution.
But if the pain persists, you should address your eye doctor immediately. He or she will perform an eye examination. For this, you might need eye numbing drops so that you can keep your eye open. But if there is a need to be completely certain that you’re dealing with an eye abrasion, the ophthalmologist will use orange dye drops and then examine your eye using a blue light. This will determine what is was that damaged your cornea, to what extent, and what is the course of treatment.
Treatment for Corneal Abrasion
The treatment for scratched cornea depends a lot on the severity of it. For instance, if there’s no serious damage, the ophthalmologist will most likely prescribe some lubricating drops. These will help you keep the eye comfortable and moist through the healing process. Some other types of abrasions might require antibiotic eye drops, which also help prevent infection.
But if the cornea is more severely damaged, you might need antibiotic ointment. You will also receive medication to help relieve pain and sensitivity, and even steroids to decrease scarring and inflammation. The healing period will be longer, and you run the risk of having your vision permanently damaged because of a scar left on your cornea.
You shouldn’t wear any contact lenses while your cornea heals, and you might even have to wear a patch over your eye for a few days. This is to protect you from light sensitivity and in some cases decrease the severity of pain in the eye. During the healing process, you should also be careful not to rub your eye. If everything runs smoothly, your cornea should heal in a few days, depending on how severe the abrasion was. The main thing is to keep the cornea from getting infected while it is healing. You should use the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor until the eye heals or until the doctor tells you to stop.
Everything Summed up
Usually, corneal abrasions are nothing to be extremely concerned about, since they heal quite fast when addressed right away. Moreover, no permanent eye damage and vision issues should appear if you are dealing with a minor corneal abrasion. However, if you’ve severely hurt your cornea, the injury might leave a scar and it might affect your vision. And if you get a corneal abrasion and don’t treat it on time, you can get an infection which can lead to corneal ulcer. Which is why you should immediately contact your physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms we described above.