Corneal Abrasion refers to the scratch or scrape on the surface of the eye, specifically the clear tissue called cornea which covers the iris. The cornea has nerve endings right under the surface that is why this condition can be very painful.
It usually occurs when something hits the eye. For example, if you're out in the woods and a tree branch hits your eye, it can cause an abrasion to the cornea. It can also be due to a foreign object getting into your eye like when the wind blows sand and scratches your cornea. Among children, the most common cause is accidentally poking the eyes with the fingers. Rubbing the eyes excessively can also bring about this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
You should suspect of having corneal abrasion if you have suffered from an injury to your eye. For one, if there is a sensation of having a foreign body in the eye, it's possible that you have corneal abrasion.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- tearing of the eyes
- blurred vision
- distorted vision
- eye pain during light exposure
- muscle spasms that cause you to squint your eyes uncontrollably
Seeing your doctor is imperative if you have corneal abrasion.
An ophthalmologist will give treatment according to the diagnosis. In most cases, the doctor will prescribe or apply antibiotic eye drops or ointment on the affected eye. Some doctors use steroid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops to minimize the inflammation and prevent scarring.
Some eye drops are also formulated to help stop the eye spasm. These are the eye drops that are also recommended for pain relief and reduction of sensitivity to light. However, these can also cause blurred vision.
Depending on the severity of the abrasion and the doctor's discretion, an eye may or may not be covered by a patch. Some studies show that patching the eye isn't helpful for this condition and may only negatively affect the healing process. If you are in doubt over the decision of your doctor regarding this matter, you can always ask him to explain to you the reason behind his/her decision so you're better informed.
• Tetanus Vaccination
A tetanus vaccination would be in order in case of rusty metallic foreign bodies in the injured cornea.
• Pain Relief
Moreover, anesthetic eye drops may be used to relieve the pain in the eye during the examination but the doctor would usually not prescribe for these for home use as they can interfere with the eye's natural healing ability. For cases where pain is intolerable, the doctor may prescribe pain medications to be taken by mouth. If you're prone to light sensitivity, the doctor will advise you to wear a pair of sunglasses when going out.
• Minor Irritation Relief
For minor irritation, you can wash the foreign object out of your eye with clean water from the tap. Rinse your eye by tilting your head slightly and putting water into the affected eye. You can take over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricants that can help alleviate the discomfort in the eye. Similarly, you can take over-the-counter pain medications for pain relief.