The cornea is a delicate and fundamental structure of the eye. It is the transparent membrane located in front of the eyeball (in front of the pupil). Corneal abrasion is a superficial scratch on the clear, protective tissue that may involve more or less deep layers of the cornea. Typically, the cornea is scratched due to traumatic causes such as: dustsandwood shavingsbreaking of contact lenses, a fingernailleaf particles or metal particles. Individuals who are more prone to develop corneal abrasions include:

  • Individuals who overuse contact lenses
  • Individuals who work in a dusty environment
  • Individuals who have very dry eyes
  • Individuals who are exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time

Most of the time, injuries that affect only the surface of the cornea heal within 2 days with treatment. Corneal abrasions caused by plant matter (such as a pine needle) usually require immediate medical attention as they can cause inflammation inside the eye. Injuries that penetrate the cornea are much more serious and the outcome depends on the specific injury.Seeing a doctor can help determine the most appropriate form of treatment (eye drops, antibiotics, pain medications) and help ensure proper healing of the corneal surface.

What are the symptoms associated with corneal abrasion?

Signs and symptoms of corneal abrasion may include the following:

  • Pain
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Redness
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Tearing (watery eyes)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Headache
  • Spasm of the muscles surrounding the eye

What to do

In order to prevent eye injuries, wearing protective eyewear is a must during activities such as mowing or working with tools and chemicals. In case of corneal abrasion, seeking prompt medical attention is essential. Left untreated, the eye can become infected and result in a corneal ulcer. Treatment instructions for corneal abrasion include the following:

  • Rinse the eye with clean water or a saline solution
  • Blink several times to remove any small particles
  • Pull the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid to wash away any small particles
  • Use eye drops or ointments prescribed by the doctor to reduce inflammation and reduce the chance of scarring
  • Take pain medications if necessary
  • Wear an eye patch to cover the injured eye and prevent infection
  • Wear sunglasses as the eye may be sensitive to direct sunlight
  • Most important: go to the emergency room or see an ophthalmologist in cases of severe eye pain and rapid blinking

What not to do

Instructions on what not to do in cases regarding corneal abrasion include the following:

  • Do not rub the eye after an injury (excessive rubbing can lead to irritation and inflammation)
  • Do not try to remove any foreign bodies embedded in the eyeball
  • Do not put pressure on the eye
  • Do not work with heavy machinery or at heights until the eye has properly healed
  • Do not touch the eyeball with tweezers, cotton swabs or other tools
  • Do not wear contact lenses while the eye is healing (such instances can lead to complications)


Disclaimer: The information in this article do not in any way replace the intervention or the signs of the operators of emergency and provide only simple tips to keep the situation under control while waiting for rescue.