Corneal abrasion

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the clear part of the front of your eye.

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the clear part of the front of your eye.

About corneal abrasions

Corneal abrasions are a small scratch on the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye.  They are generally a result of trauma (injury) to the surface of the eye. Common causes include a fingernail scratching the eye, walking into something, and getting grit in the eye, particularly if the eye is then rubbed.  Injuries can also be caused by contact lens insertion and removal.

How a corneal abrasion affects vision

Abrasions are very painful because there are many nerves that supply the cornea.The pain gets better as your eye heals, but this can take between 24 and 48 hours.If the abrasion involves the central part of your cornea, your vision could also be temporarily affected.Apart from the pain, your eye might be watery, red and sensitive to light.

If your eye becomes increasingly red or painful after treatment or your sight becomes much more blurred, you should see an eye doctor again or contact the hospital.

Treatment for a corneal abrasion

Treatment generally involves a thorough examination of your eye and lids, to check for any trapped foreign body or grit and ensure there is no serious eye injury, followed by drops or ointment and, sometimes, an eye pad.If you are given an eye pad, you will need to keep it on for between 12 and 24 hours; if you find this uncomfortable,you can take it off and use sunglasses instead.

You should also note the following:

  • You may take ordinary pain killers, such as paracetamol, to help with the pain
  • Avoid rubbing or touching your eye
  • If you wear contact lenses, don’t use them until your eye is completely healed;you need to see your contact lens practitioner after finishing treatment for your abrasion before you wear your contact lenses again

If you are asked to use drops or ointments, please follow these steps:

  • Lie down, or lean your head back, and look up
  • Use a clean finger to gently pull down your lower eyelid to create a pocket
  • If you are using eye drops, gently squeeze them into the pocket you have created,not directly onto your eye
  • If you are using ointment, apply a small strip into the pocket
  • Blink to spread the medication over your eye

If your eye becomes increasingly red or painful after treatment or your sight becomes more blurred, you should see an eye doctor again or contact the hospital.Remember though that if the eye doctor put in pupil dilating (enlarging) drops, your sight will normally be blurred for 12-24 hours after these were put in.