What is a corneal abrasion?
The cornea (the clear part on the front of your eye that helps focus light onto the retina) is made up of 5 layers. A corneal abrasion occurs when the top layer, the epithelium, is damaged. This usually occurs from trauma and is commonly caused by getting a foreign body into the eye or scratch by a fingernail, but can also happen spontaneously in patients with corneal erosions. This is very similar to getting a cut on your skin but is usually much more painful as the cornea has more nerve endings than any other tissue in your body. Also, each time you blink the eyelids irritate the exposed tissue.
Besides eye pain, a corneal abrasion can cause blurred vision, glare or halos, and sensitivity to lights. If not properly treated, a corneal abrasion may become infected which can result in a loss of vision. Fortunately, the corneal epithelium replaces itself every seven days so abrasions tend to heal quickly.
How is a corneal abrasion treated?
Treatment for corneal abrasions includes topical antibiotics to prevent infection and topical lubrication to reduce irritation. Sometimes a bandage contact lens is placed onto the cornea to protect the ocular surface, which allows the tissue to heal properly and significantly improves comfort.
If there is an intense sensitivity to light, additional eye drops may be given to help minimize these symptoms. If you have a corneal abrasion, or if you are currently being treated for corneal abrasion and are experiencing increased pain, redness, or loss of vision, please contact your eye care provider immediately to determine the best course of treatment.