Fitness Facts: Corneal abrasion

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

Connie Colbert

A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape to the cornea of the eye. The cornea is the transparent part of the eye that covers the front portion of the eye. The main function of the cornea is to refract, or bend, light.

Oftentimes, many of the things we do daily can cause the cornea to become scratched and damaged, thus causing pain to the eye.

What types of things can cause a corneal abrasion?

Common things, such as contact with: dust, dirt, sand, wood shavings, metal particles, fingernails, makeup brushes, contact lenses or even the edge of a piece of paper.

Other causes are rubbing your eye and having a very dry eye.

What are the symptoms of a corneal abrasion?

  • Excessive watering of the eye
  • A feeling that something is stuck in your eye
  • Red eye
  • Eye pain (the cornea has multiple nerve cells and pain receptors that are transmitted as pain when there is damage to the eye)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

How is a corneal abrasion diagnosed?

A health care provider will need to examine your eye and take a thorough history. They may give you eye drops to relax your eye muscles and widen your pupil.

They also may use a specialized eye stain called fluorescein drops to highlight any scratches or damage on the surface of your cornea. You may receive eye drops to temporarily ease pain.

How is a corneal abrasion treated?

  • If you scratch your eye, or get something in your eye, rinse it with clean water or saline solution immediately.
  • You need to wear a patch over your injured eye. This is to keep you from blinking and making the corneal abrasion worse.
  • If your health care provider diagnoses you with a corneal abrasion, they’ll check for signs of infection. They’ll also decide if you need a topical antibiotic in the form of eye drops.
  • You may receive a prescription for eye drops to relieve pain and sensitivity to light if your abrasion is severe.
  • You also may receive a prescription for pain medication. In most cases, your cornea will heal quickly, usually within several days.

Any pain in your eye, especially when combined with eye redness and change in vision, can be serious. If you have any of these symptoms, see a health care provider as soon as possible.

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Bible Verse

"(Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)

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