The cornea is the thin, transparent outer layer of the eye that extends over the iris and pupil. Since it’s on the surface of the eye, it can sustain a direct injury.
Corneal abrasions – or scratches on the cornea – can vary in severity. At times, the abrasion is relatively mild, causing only subtle symptoms. However, the scratches can be incredibly serious and may lead to additional problems, including corneal ulcers or iritis.
Understanding the symptoms of a scratched cornea can help you determine if such an abrasion may cause any symptoms you’re experiencing. If you are wondering whether you have a scratched cornea, here’s what you need to know.
Causes of a Scratched Cornea
Generally speaking, scratched corneas can occur when something comes in contact with the surface of the eye. While it can be caused by a traumatic event, such as being intentionally or accidentally poked in the eye by a person or pet, those aren’t how must occur.
Everyday incidental contact is a more likely culprit. For example, sand and dust getting into your eye could lead to abrasion, as well as debris from an industrial workplace. Makeup brushes can cause scratches as well, along with incorrectly removing a contact lens.
Even dry eyes can be to blame. If your eyes get dry while sleeping, opening your eyelids in the morning can lead to abrasions due to the lack of moisture and the increased amount of friction.
Essentially, anything that touches the cornea directly can damage the delicate tissue.
Symptoms of a Scratched Cornea
A scratched cornea can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Eye Discomfort
- A Gritty Sensation in the Eye
- Eye Pain
- Light Sensitivity
- Excessive Tearing
- Eye Redness
- Blurry Vision
Mild abrasions may only produce mild symptoms, such as a general feeling of discomfort. The more severe the abrasions tend to be, the more noticeable symptoms often are. However, even a mild scratch can evolve into a more dangerous condition if not properly treated.
Common Treatment for a Scratched Cornea
If you suspect that you’ve scratched your cornea, it’s wise to take a few steps immediately. If you have scratched cornea symptoms, remove your contact lenses (if you wear them) carefully. Additionally, please don’t wear them again until your eye is fully healed.
Flushing the eye with a saline solution is a smart move. That will help rinse out any dust, dirt, or debris, if any is present. After rinsing, blink multiple times to help remove the particles naturally.
Resist the urge to rub your eyes. If any particles remain on the surface or embedded in the eye, rubbing can cause additional scratches or make an existing abrasion worse.
When to Call a Doctor
If you’ve rinsed your eye with saline and you’re still experiencing redness, pain, or the feeling that debris is stuck in your eye, seek immediate medical attention. A corneal abrasion can be incredibly serious, and prompt treatment is necessary to avoid further damage.
Contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist right away for an emergency appointment. That way, they can evaluate your eye and determine if additional treatment is necessary.
Your Eye Health is Our Priority
At ECVA, our staff works tirelessly to care for our patients’ eyes, including evaluating and treating injuries as quickly as possible. If you suspect a corneal abrasion, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.