Our eyes are very delicate. Even something as small as a minor scratch is enough to cause irritation. A corneal abrasion occurs when the cornea – the thin protective layer on the eyes – becomes scratched. It’s best to avoid this kind of damage.
Causes of Corneal Abrasion
Just about anything can lead to a corneal abrasion. Since the cornea is thin and sensitive, it doesn’t take much for it to become scratched.
Some causes of corneal abrasion include:
- Wood shavings
- Metal particles
Essentially, anything that can enter your eye can cause a corneal abrasion.
Signs and Symptoms of Corneal Abrasion
Signs and symptoms of a corneal abrasion are:
- Gritty feeling on eye
- Sensitivity to light.
Severe symptoms may lead to blurry vision, in which case you should seek out medical attention.
Prevention of Corneal Abrasion
Taking precautions in everyday actions can help you reduce the risk of corneal abrasion. This means wearing protective eyewear in working environments where there is a higher risk of airborne debris, wearing protective eyewear when gardening, using power tools, and during some sports. It’s also important to ensure you are keeping your contact lenses clean and replacing them when necessary.
How Is Corneal Abrasion Diagnosed?
A doctor will examine your eye to properly diagnose a corneal abrasion. To complete this, they will administer eye drops to relax the eye muscles and widen your pupils. You may also receive fluorescent eye drops to highlight damaged areas of the eyes. Magnifying tools and special lamps are used to get a proper look of the eye.
Treating a Scratched Cornea
The moment you feel something in your eye, you should rinse it gently with cool water. Do not try to retrieve it with your fingers, as this can lead to further damage. Blinking may also be helpful to remove small particles in the eye, but if there are metal particles, this may cause the abrasions to become worse.
An ophthalmologist may recommend eye drops to reduce infection and ensure the eye stays lubricated. It’s important not to rub your eye if it has experienced a corneal abrasion, as it can worsen the condition. In severe cases, you may have to wear an eye patch to prevent anything else from entering the eye.
The severity of the corneal abrasion will determine healing time. Typically, larger abrasions will take longer to heal than smaller ones. The good news is the corneal abrasion will heal and not lead to future vision problems. Complications can occur, though, because the cornea is thin. In these cases, it may lead to recurrent corneal erosion. Corneal erosion happens when the tissues slip apart and do not fully heal. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to smooth the cornea.
Prognosis of Scratched Cornea
The majority of patients with a corneal abrasion have a very good prognosis, making a complete recovery. Depending on the severity of the corneal abrasion, there always runs a risk of changes to vision or even blindness. You should see your doctor immediately if you suspect any eye troubles so that treatment can be administered right away.
Minor abrasions can heal within a few days while more serious ones will take longer to heal.
If a patient is unhealthy, there is a higher risk of complications resulting from a corneal abrasion.
The key is an early treatment to reduce the risk of complications and to promote proper healing.