Corneal Abrasions

What Are Corneal Abrasions?

Corneal abrasions are areas of scratched or damaged cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. They are a very common type of eye injury.

The cornea is made up of five layers: the epithelium (outermost layer), Bowman’s membrane, the stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and the endothelium. Corneal abrasions are usually caused when debris or other objects make contact with the front surface of the eye and scrape away the epithelium, leaving a shallow groove in the cornea.

Corneal abrasions are usually very painful, and can cause blurred vision, tearing, and sensitivity to light. They can also make it difficult to open the eyes.

Symptoms of Corneal Abrasions

The most common symptom of a corneal abrasion is eye pain. The pain may be mild to moderate, or it may be intense. Other symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness
  • Tearing
  • Itching
  • Feeling like there is something in the eye

Diagnosing Corneal Abrasions

A doctor will usually be able to diagnose a corneal abrasion by examining the eye with a special magnifying lens. The doctor may also use a dye to highlight any abraded areas. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to verify the diagnosis.

Treatment for Corneal Abrasions

Treatment for corneal abrasions depends on the severity of the injury. Minor abrasions can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter lubricating eye drops and cold compresses. The eye should be kept closed whenever possible to reduce irritation.

More serious abrasions may require antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. A doctor may also prescribe pain medication if needed. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be needed to repair the damaged cornea.

Preventing Corneal Abrasions

The best way to prevent corneal abrasions is to wear protective eyewear when engaging in activities that could potentially cause eye injury. This includes wearing safety glasses or goggles while working with tools and chemicals, and wearing eye protection during contact sports.

It’s also important to properly clean and store contact lenses. Never sleep in your lenses, and make sure to replace them regularly.