Corneal scratches, also referred to as corneal abrasions, are among some of the most common eye injuries. While they are not typically serious, it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment of them so that you can know the proper actions to take should you suffer a scratched cornea.

What is a Cornea?

The cornea is one of the main (and most important) parts of the eye. Specifically, it is the outermost part of the lens that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside. In a way, it acts as a window. It is responsible for the majority of the eye’s focusing power. Additionally, the cornea protects the inner eye from dust and germs.

What is a Corneal Scratch?

A corneal scratch is any type of abrasion on the cornea. The scratch may be small or large. Depending on the severity of the abrasion, you  may or may not notice an actual scratch on your eye.

Learn about other corneal eye conditions and their treatments.

How Do Corneas Get Scratched?

Corneal scratches occur when the outer layer of the eye has been scraped or damaged in some way. This can happen many different ways, such as from a fingernail, sand, or other type of debris. Even the smallest scratch can cause eye pain, excess tearing, eye irritation, redness, and blurry vision.

Symptoms of a Scratched Cornea

In most cases, a scratched cornea will result in immediate symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Irritation
  • Blurry vision
  • A gritty feeling in the eye
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to the light
  • Headache

How to Treat a Scratched Cornea

Typically, minor corneal scratches heal within a few days, while more severe abrasions can take longer to fully heal. The moment the abrasion occurs, avoid rubbing your eyes or trying to treat it on your own. Doing so could cause additional damage. Most corneal abrasions heal within a few days by using medicated eye drops, resting the eye, and avoiding use of contact lenses. In some cases, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic as well.

We always recommend seeing a trusted eye doctor when you suspect a corneal scratch, regardless of the severity. Corneal scratches heal when treated promptly, with the key word being promptly. When left untreated, they can lead to more serious conditions, like ulcers and even vision loss. Your doctor can evaluate the scratch and make sure that the proper measures are taken to support proper and complete healing.

Do not take a wait and see approach if you are suffering from a scratched cornea. The sooner a doctor can see you, the better.

Preventing Corneal Scratches

Accidents happen, so it is not possible to prevent every corneal scratch. However, protective eyewear can greatly reduce the risk of corneal scratches. Wear protective eyewear when working with dust, dirt, or anything else that could damage your cornea. Additionally, if you do get something in your eye, avoid rubbing at your eye to remove it. Instead, wash your hands and then use water to thoroughly flush your eye out. If you are unable to remove the object or particle from your eye, call your eye doctor. They will be able to help you remove it without further damage.

Comprehensive Eye Care in Austin, Texas

Whether you are suffering from a scratched cornea or other eye ailment, the ophthalmologists at Broberg Eye Care are here to help. We serve individuals and families in Austin, TX and the surrounding communities with comprehensive eye care services, including routine eye exams, laser vision surgery, and other eye surgeries. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.