The cornea is the clear covering of the front of the eye which bends, or refracts, light rays as they enter the eye. Injuries, such as scratches or cuts, on the surface of the cornea are known as corneal abrasions. Due to the amount of nerve cells in the cornea, a corneal abrasion is usually painful. A corneal abrasion causes significant pain and discomfort; it is a serious condition that should be medically addressed as soon as possible.
A corneal abrasion is a scrape or scratch on the clear front surface of the eye that may occur as a result of the following:
- Exposure to a foreign object
- Ultraviolet light
- Sports injury
- Violently rubbing the eyes
- Surgical injury
- Chemical irritation
- Dry eyes
A corneal abrasion may also be the result of a bacterial infection or a contact lens that fits improperly.
Patients with a corneal abrasion often feel intense pain in the eye and may also experience the following symptoms:
- A sensation of having something in the eye
- Tearing of the eyes
Patients with a corneal abrasion may be unaware that they have the condition until symptoms begin.
Patients exhibiting symptoms of a corneal abrasion should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. The eyes are examined and the following tests may be conducted:
- Fluorescein eye stain
- Examination of the eye
If something is on the cornea, the doctor can safely remove it.
Depending on the cause of the condition, a corneal abrasion may be treated with a combination of the following methods:
- Rinsing the eye
- Using artificial tears
- Over-the-counter medication
- Antibiotic eye drops
- Antibiotic ointment
- Patching of the affected eye
Pain medication or eye drops to reduce muscle spasms may be prescribed. It is important for patients with a corneal abrasion to avoid touching or rubbing their eyes. In most cases, a corneal abrasion can be effectively treated with no permanent complications and typically heals within a matter of days. Depending on the severity of the corneal abrasion, a corneal transplantation may be recommended.
While not all corneal abrasions can be avoided, the risk of occurrence may be reduced by using protective eye wear when engaging in activities that may cause foreign matter to blow into the eye.