What Causes Corneal Abrasions? What to Expect and Treatments
“Corneal abrasion” is the term used to describe scratches to the cornea. While this kind of injury can cause red eyes, increased sensitivity to light, and overall discomfort, the good news is that it is usually does not cause severe permanent damage. In fact, corneal abrasions are among the most common of all eye injuries. Many people will suffer a corneal abrasion at some point in their lives.
While this kind of eye injury is common, though, and while the prognosis is often quite good, it’s still essential to visit your eye doctor if you believe you have a corneal abrasion. If left untreated, scratches on the surface of the eye can lead to infections, which can result in more severe eye ocular damage.
Getting proper treatment early on is the best way to make sure your corneal abrasion remains a mild, minor eye injury.
What Causes Corneal Abrasions?
Just as your skin can be scratched by just about anything, so too can your eye. The cornea—and the eyes in general—are sensitive. Our eyelids and our reflexes generally do a good job defending our eyes, but occasionally, a foreign object may contact the ocular surface. That foreign object can be anything: a grain of sand from playing on the beach; your own finger or fingernail as you try to scratch an itch; a tennis ball hitting you in the eye in the middle of a match. Any of these objects, by contacting your eye’s surface, can leave behind a corneal abrasion. In fact, corneal abrasions are just as often caused by “non- events” (like dust or sand finding its way into your eye) as they are by actual traumatic events (such as a pet scratching you in the face). As a result, many people don’t realize they even have corneal abrasions until later.
If you have dry eyes, you are more likely to develop corneal abrasions. People who suffer from dry eyes often have issues with their eyelids sticking to their corneas, especially after sleep. For these individuals, the simple act of opening their eyes can cause corneal abrasions.
Those who wear contact lenses are also more likely to develop corneal abrasions. They might scratch their eyes when inserting or removing a lens. If you wear a pair of contact lenses for too long, the lens itself might become damaged—to the point where it can scratch the eye.
What to Expect from a Corneal Abrasion
Most abrasions affect only the very top layer of the cornea. These scratches don’t go deep enough to cause permanent damage to your eye, but they do disrupt the cells on the surface of the cornea, which in turn disrupts your vision and causes discomfort. Corneal abrasions are sometimes painful, but they more often leave the patient feeling like there is something in their eye. Don’t rub your eye in these situations, as doing so can worsen the problem (if you already have an abrasion) or cause an abrasion (if you don’t). Rinsing your eyes—preferably with a saline solution—will help to flush out any foreign objects. If the discomfort in your eye remains—or if you notice visible redness or notable pain in the eye—you should consult an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Corneal Abrasion Treatment
How your eye doctor treats your corneal abrasion will depend on the severity of the injury. For minor abrasions, your doctor will likely prescribe some antibiotic eye drops. These prevent infection as the eye heals. Artificial tear drops may also be added, which lubricate the eye, enhance comfort, and foster healing. Often, a contact lens may be inserted. This acts as a bandage and minimizes friction caused by the eyelid, promoting healing. In more severe cases, your eye doctor may add steroid drops to minimize inflammation.
If you believe you have a corneal abrasion, make an appointment at Miami Contact Lens Institute today.
We’ll examine your eye, and provide a treatment appropriate for the severity of your abrasion. Call us
today to schedule your appointment.