How to Properly Handle a Scratched Cornea

A corneal abrasion is one of the most common eye injuries. It can be painful, leading to discomfort, red eyes and sensitivity to light. It’s important to see your eye doctor right away if you suspect a scratched cornea. These types of eye injuries can lead to infection and blurred vision if they aren’t treated.

What is a Corneal Abrasion?

The cornea is the clear top surface of the eye. Its job is to focus light so that you can see. When the cornea is scratched, there is a disruption in these cells.

Many things can lead to a corneal abrasion, such as being scratched by a pet, getting hit during a sporting event or even having debris fly into your eye on a windy day. People who wear old contact lenses or have dry eye syndrome are more at risk for scratched eyes as well.

How Do You Treat a Scratched Cornea?

If you end up with a scratched cornea, what do you do? How do you treat the injury and ease discomfort?

● Rinse your eye with a saline solution or clear water.
● Blink to help get rid of the particles in your eye.
● Pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid to brush away the foreign object.
● Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight while it heals.
● Don’t rub or touch your eyes with anything.
● Don’t wear your contact lenses while the scratch heals.
● Call your local eye doctor.

What Will Your Eye Specialist Recommend?

Your route of care will depend on the severity of the injury. Minor abrasions can be treated with lubricating drops that will keep the eyes moist and comfortable while healing takes place. However, your eye specialist may recommend antibiotic eye drops even if the scratch is slight. Antibiotic drops prevent infection. Usually, a superficial scratch takes 2-3 days to heal.

If your abrasion is more severe, your eye doctor may recommend extra precautions. He or she may suggest using an antibiotic eye ointment for longer than a few days, in addition to a steroid to decrease inflammation and scarring. Medications are also available for managing pain and light sensitivity. Deep, large abrasions can leave permanent damage. In most cases, though, the abrasion will heal on its own.

The best way to avoid a scratched eye is prevention. If you are participating in an activity, wear protective eyewear. If you plan to be outside at the beach on a windy day, wear sunglasses and avoid rubbing your eyes. If you still wind up with a scratched eye, call Empire Retina to make sure that no further damage has inflicted the eye.