Corneal Abrasion

What is Corneal Abrasion (Definition)

A corneal abrasion is a lesion of the cornea, which is the transparent surface on the front of the eye. It is right in front of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The cornea has several layers that protect the eye. Some corneal injuries can leave scars and permanently deteriorate vision.

Corneal Abrasion Causes

Many corneal abrasions occur as a result of:

  • Dust, dirt, sand, wood or metal chips that hit the eye
  • Rubbing the eye vigorously, especially when there is something inside
  • A nail, splinter or other object that scratches the eye
  • Wear contact lenses, especially if the lenses are worn for longer than indicated or not cleaned properly
  • Do not protect the eyes during surgery (if the eyes are not completely closed while under the effects of general anesthesia, the cornea can become too dry and sometimes cause an injury)
  • Certain eye disorders

Corneal Abrasion Risk factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for corneal abrasion include:

  • Have a dry or weak cornea
  • Wear contact lenses
  • Work in a risk area for the eyes, such as working with metals or gardening
  • Participate in sports where they can cause eye injuries by accident

Corneal Abrasion Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain that may worsen when opening or closing the eye
  • A feeling that a foreign object is in your eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Lachrymation
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache

Corneal Abrasion Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform an eye exam. The doctor will look for foreign objects in the eye, and it is possible that he will place eye drops so that he feels more comfortable and to be able to better observe any injury with a special light. You will usually be referred to an eye doctor.

Corneal Abrasion Treatment

Usually, minor tears heal within 1-2 days. You can put a patch for comfort. In some cases, your eye doctor will place a contact lens in your eye to help decrease discomfort and improve healing. The doctor is likely to ask you to return in a short time to confirm that the injury is healing.

The treatment may include:

Remove the foreign object

The doctor will remove the foreign object by washing the eye with a saline solution or using a cotton swab, needle or other tool. Maybe I should use a patch on my eye. However, a meta-analysis (analysis of a group of studies on the same topic) conducted in 2006 showed that the use of a patch in the eye does not diminish the pain and may even delay the healing process. * However, most eye care specialists believe that, when used correctly, a patch that puts pressure on the eye and prevents blinking provides greater comfort and speeds up the healing process.


Medications may include:

  • Antibiotic drops or ointments to prevent infection
  • Medicine needed for pain

Personal care

Visit the eye doctor immediately whenever you feel a discomfort in the eye. In addition to the treatment prescribed by your doctor, personal care may include:

  • Do not rub your eye. Rubbing the eye could make the abrasion worse.
  • If you are not using a patch, wet compresses can help relieve pain.
  • Do not wear your contact lenses until your doctor approves it.
  • If you are diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, follow your doctor's instructions.

Corneal Abrasion Prevention

Prevention focuses on preventing corneal injuries or providing early treatment that will prevent injury. If something tears or penetrates one of your eyes, seek medical attention immediately.

To avoid corneal injuries:

  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles when doing sports activities, gardening, construction, or other activities during which you may injure your eyes. Ideally, wear glasses that cover the eyes completely and adhere to your skin.
  • Otherwise, any foreign object could enter through a hole between the glasses and the skin and reach the eye.
  • This recommendation applies especially when working with objects that can move at high speed, such as when hammering or polishing metals.
  • Wash your hands before handling your contact lenses. Clean and wear your lenses properly. Never sleep with contact lenses unless the doctor approves.

If something enters your eye:

Wash with plenty of water. Splash the water so that it drips to the side of the head, not to your nose or other eye.
Do not rub your eye.

Call your doctor

If an object hits your eye with speed, it can be a medical emergency and for that you should seek medical attention immediately. Also, if a chemical splashes your eyes, wash them immediately with plenty of water and call 911.

Tip: if you feel pain or any foreign object in your eye, evaluate the possibility of consulting an eye doctor immediately, instead of going to an emergency service, since in this service you probably need to refer them to that specialist. However, if you have a serious injury or were splashed with a chemical, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away.

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