Help! There’s Something in My Eye!

Usually when we get something in our eye we’re able to see what and where it is and then carefully remove it by blinking or flushing with water. But if you have the sensation that there’s something in your eye that won’t budge no matter what you try, you may have a corneal abrasion, or scratched eye.

A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the clear, protective dome that covers your eye’s pupil and iris. Corneal abrasions can be caused by many common culprits such as dirt, dust, sand, fingernails, wood shavings, paper, metal particles, or by wearing contact lenses too long. Symptoms may show immediately after contact with the object, or may start hours after the injury.

Symptoms that may indicate you have a corneal abrasion include:

  • A gritty feeling in the eye
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to the light
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are certain immediate steps you should take if you scratch your eye and others you shouldn’t to avoid further damaging your eye:


✓ DO rinse your eye with saline solution or clean water to flush any remaining objects from your eye.

✓ DO blink to help get rid of any bits of dust or sand.

✓ DO pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid. Your lower eyelid lashes may be able to brush away anything caught underneath your upper eyelid.

✓ DO wear sunglasses if your eye is sensitive to light because of the scratch.

✗ DON’T rub your eye, as this can make the abrasion worse.

✗ DON’T touch your eye with your fingers or cotton swabs. Touching your eye with any object can aggravate the abrasion.

✗ DON’T wear your contact lenses because they can cause complications and slow the healing process.

If you suspect you have a corneal abrasion, or scratched eye, it’s always advised to have your ophthalmologist evaluate your eye. Most corneal abrasions result in temporary irritation that resolves in a day or two, but more serious scratches can result in permanent vision loss. Corneal abrasions can also become infected if left untreated, resulting in a corneal ulcer, or can cause swelling and inflammation of the eyelid. After examining your eye, your ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment or steroid drops to reduce inflammation and the chance of scarring.

With offices in Knoxville, TN and Morristown, TN, Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing exceptional eye care to patients in order to preserve or restore the gift of sight. Our physicians specialize in a full range of optical care needs, from routine comprehensive eye examinations to diagnosis, treatment, or surgical correction of complex eye diseases. Schedule an appointment with one of our trusted physicians online or by calling 865-579-3920.

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