A corneal abrasion is a cut (abrasion) or scratch of the outer layer (cornea) of the eye. Injury (trauma) is found to be the one of the most common cause for corneal abrasions.
Causes of Corneal Abrasion
The most common causes of corneal abrasion are:
- Scratches from fingernails (human and animal)
- Foreign objects coming in contact with the cornea (e.g., dirt, wood splinters, metal shavings, plants, tree branches, etc)
- Curling irons
- Over rubbing of the eye
- Extra exposure to ultraviolet light
- Arc welding light exposure
- High wearing of contact lenses
- Ill-fitting contact lenses
- Teared contact lenses
- Makeup brushes
- Paper cuts
- Chemical burns
- Irregular eyelashes rubbing the cornea or falling off into the eye
- Any foreign object that gets stuck under the eyelid, which then irritates the cornea each time you blink
Other causes include underlying eye conditions, like:
- unable to fully close the eyelids
- abnormal lid position
- dry eye conditions
- chronic blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
Who is at risk?
Corneal abrasions are very common. Those who wear contact lenses or work in dusty, dirty, windy, or debris-laden areas are more prone to get a corneal abrasion.
Signs & Symptoms of Corneal Abrasion
Although it is very difficult to detect a corneal abrasion with the naked eye, you have to be suspicious of this if you have experienced any of the causes of corneal abrasion mentioned above.
Along with that is the painful feeling that something is in your eye that just won't wash out, plus:
- Lots of watery tearing
- Sensitivity to light (especially bright light)
- Blurred vision
- Redness of the eye
- Spasm of the muscles surrounding the eye resulting in squinting
Treatment of Corneal Abrasion
After confirming that there is nothing more serious than a corneal abrasion, your doctor will most likely tightly patch the eye for a day or two after instilling an anesthetic drop and antibiotic ointment.
Very tight patching is indicated for those abrasions that are felt to be essentially clean. Otherwise, patching may not be done. Your doctor may also clean and sweep the area of the abrasion to extract any possible dirty or contaminated tissue.
If there is an underlying basis for the abrasion, care for this is needed to prevent recurrence. If the corneal abrasion was contact lens related, you may be required to be re-evaluated regarding your contact lenses as to fit and type. If the problem is recurrent erosion, your doctor will begin specific treatment for that condition.