Corneal abrasions are scratches that occur on the protective surface of the eye. Known as the cornea, this layer of the eye is very sensitive and is meant to serve as a barrier between external debris and the inner eye. A scratch on the surface of the cornea can be very uncomfortable and similar to the sensation of sand in the eye. Abrasions can result in inflammation, heightened sensitivity and increased tear production. Some patients also experience headaches and blurred vision.
Any object can scratch the cornea, including a piece of paper or a fingernail. Most scratches do not incur any lasting damage and heal on their own within a day or two. Depending on the extent of the abrasion, antibiotic eye drops may be necessary to help prevent an infection that could delay healing and also lead to a corneal ulcer. If an abrasion does not heal on its own or symptoms worsen or even return after going away, it is important to see an eye doctor immediately to ensure there are no underlying complications.
Preventing Corneal Abrasion
Although it is not always possible to avoid a corneal abrasion, there are some ways of minimizing risk. It is recommended that foreign objects be blinked or flushed out of the eye rather than removed by rubbing or placing the fingers into the eye. It is also important to avoid rubbing the eye after it has suffered a trauma or injury. This may only worsen an otherwise superficial corneal abrasion, leading to a prolonged recovery time and increased risk of infection.