Corneal Abrasion

The cornea is the clear covering at the front and center of the eye. When looking at the colored portion (iris) of the eye, you are looking through that person's cornea.

This very thin tissue is made up of many layers. The surface layer is a single layer of cells called the corneal epithelium. This is one of the most sensitive tissues in the body. If a scratch or injury causes the corneal epithelium to come off, it is called a corneal abrasion. If the injury extends to the tissues below the epithelium, the condition is called a corneal ulcer.

CAUSES

  • Scratches.

  • Trauma.

  • Foreign body in the eye.

  • Some people have recurrences of abrasions in the area of the original injury even after they heal. This is called recurrent erosion syndrome. Recurrent erosion syndromes generally improve and go away with time.

SYMPTOMS

  • Eye pain.

  • Difficulty or inability to keep the injured eye open.

  • The eye becomes very sensitive to light.

  • Recurrent erosions tend to happen suddenly, first thing in the morning – usually upon awakening and opening the eyes.

DIAGNOSIS

Your eye professional can diagnose a corneal abrasion during an eye exam. Dye is usually placed in the eye using a drop or a small paper strip moistened by the patient's tears. When the eye is examined with a special light, the abrasion shows up clearly because of the dye.

TREATMENT

  • Small abrasions may be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment alone.

  • Usually a pressure patch is specially applied. Pressure patches prevent the eye from blinking, allowing the corneal epithelium to heal. Because blinking is less, a pressure patch also reduces the amount of pain present in the eye during healing. Most corneal abrasions heal within 2-3 days with no effect on vision. WARNING: Do not drive or operate machinery while your eye is patched. Your ability to judge distances is impaired.

  • If abrasion becomes infected and spreads to the deeper tissues of the cornea, a corneal ulcer can result. This is serious because it can cause corneal scarring. Corneal scars interfere with light passing through the cornea, and cause a loss of vision in the involved eye.

  • If your caregiver has given you a follow-up appointment, it is very important to keep that appointment. Not keeping the appointment could result in a severe eye infection or permanent loss of vision. If there is any problem keeping the appointment, you must call back to this facility for assistance.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have pain, light sensitivity and a scratchy feeling in one eye (or both).

  • Your pressure patch keeps loosening up and you can blink your eye under the patch after treatment.

  • Any kind of discharge develops from the involved eye after treatment or if the lids stick together in the morning.

  • You have the same symptoms in the morning as you did with the original abrasion days, weeks or months after the abrasion healed.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.