Corneal Abrasions: What Are They and How Are They Treated?

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corneal abrasion treatment knoxville tn

The cornea is your body’s first line of defense when it comes to protecting your eyes, but what happens when it gets damaged? A small scratch or scrape can feel much larger and can run the risk of negatively affecting your eye health. To protect your overall eye health, you need to know how to spot a corneal abrasion and what to do about it.

Corneal abrasions are scratches on your cornea. They can be caused by debris, fingernails, and even makeup brushes. Symptoms include feeling like something is stuck in your eye along with irritation, tearing up, and even nausea. Abrasions can heal on their own, but may need to be treated with antibiotics and are diagnosed with an eye exam. 

What are corneal abrasions?

A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the outermost layer of your eye. The cornea helps protect the colored part of your eye, known as the iris, and the black part of your eye (pupil) from getting damaged. Unfortunately, this means that the cornea is more likely to be damaged itself, which is why corneal abrasion is one of the most common eye injuries. 

The cornea is the clear surface of your eye, but it has layers of its own. Abrasions damage the surface of your cornea called the corneal epithelium. This causes a wound in the protective layer that can lead to a major eye infection if left untreated. If you suspect you have a corneal abrasion then contact us immediately to get treatment and protect your eye health. 

Corneal abrasions aren’t the only threat to your cornea. Click here to learn about 7 other corneal conditions that can affect your vision!

What causes a corneal abrasion?

You can get a corneal abrasion in a number of ways. Basically, anything that comes into contact with your eye can scratch the surface of it. While corneal abrasions may not seem like a big deal at the time, they can lead to major problems later on so it’s important to have them checked out by your eye doctor. 

You can get a scraped or scratched cornea from:

  • Your makeup brush
  • Tree branches
  • Playing sports
  • Fingernails

Another major cause of abrasions are foreign bodies that get into your eye. This could be a foreign object such as dust, sand, as well as grass or leaves while doing yard work. That’s why it’s so important to wear protective eyewear such as safety glasses whenever there’s a risk to your eye health. Don’t rub your eye if you develop a corneal abrasion to avoid making it worse.

You may think that your eyes are protected if you wear contact lenses, but you’d be mistaken. The truth is that a contact lens can actually damage your eye if you wear it for too long, resulting in sores on your cornea, increasing your risk of a corneal abrasion. 

Click here to learn the dos and don’ts for different types of eye injuries!

Corneal Abrasion Symptoms

As with their causes, there are multiple symptoms of corneal abrasions. The cornea is extremely sensitive so even a small abrasion can have a huge effect. A major tipoff that you have an abrasion is if you experience a foreign body sensation in your eye. This can feel like you have a large, gritty object stuck in your eye causing significant pain and discomfort. 

Other symptoms for a scratched or scraped cornea include:

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  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Twitching eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Hypersensitive to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty opening your eyes

In some cases, you may also experience headaches and nausea.

Corneal Abrasion Treatment

Contact our office immediately if you suspect you have a corneal abrasion. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to care for it until you can talk to one of our eye doctors.

  • Check your eye for any debris that may be causing your symptoms.
  • Rinse your eye with clean water saline solutions a couple of times to remove any debris. Just make sure not to flush too many times since it can make your symptoms worse.

When you come in for your appointment, we’ll check your vision as well as for any debris that may be left. If necessary, we will prescribe antibiotic eye drops for corneal abrasions. These topical antibiotics will help stave off infection and protect the injured eye as it heals. 

Corneal abrasion healing time is usually a couple of days. We may schedule a follow-up appointment in as little as 24 hours after your first treatment to check on your eye’s healing process.

Make sure to follow your eye doctor’s instructions carefully. Failure to do so can result in improper healing of your wound. This can lead to recurrent corneal erosion in some cases, along with other complications, that can significantly affect your eye comfort and health.

How are corneal abrasions diagnosed?

To check for corneal abrasions, we start by putting a special dye on the surface of your eye called fluorescein. We then use an instrument known as a slit lamp to examine your cornea. The dye highlights scrapes and scratches under the slit lamp, helping us make a positive diagnosis and provide you with treatment.

Are you suffering from a corneal abrasion? Contact us today to get the treatment you need!

Corneal abrasions can be caused by scratches from fingernails, autumn leaves, and makeup brushes. These scratches on your cornea can feel like a painful foreign object in your eye, causing tearing, irritation, and blurred vision. They often heal on their own after a few days, but serious cases require an eye exam for diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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