What is a corneal abrasion?
A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea – the clear window on the front of your eye. Abrasions are very painful because there are many nerves that supply this part of the eye. With an abrasion, your eye is often watery, red and sensitive to light. Your eyelids may become swollen and your vision may be blurry.
What causes a corneal abrasion?
Scratches to the cornea are common. The cornea could be scratched by a hairbrush, a fingermail or a tree branch. It may be scratched when a small object such as a dust particle hits your eye. If a small foreign body becomes lodged under your eyelid, this can cause scratches on your cornea.
What is the treatment?
A corneal scratch usually heals on its own and the pain settles over 24 to 48 hours, but your eye may feel gritty for several weeks. Eye infection could develop following a scratch to the cornea, so antibiotic eye drops or ointment is prescribed for several days to prevent this in most cases. You may be prescribed a pupil dilating drop, which may help to relieve the painful spasms of the iris, and occasionally, an eye pad may be applied for several hours.
Anaesthetic drops are only given to numb your eye to help with your examination. They are not prescribe to take home as they will slow corneal healing if used regularly. Please remember that the pain will come back once the anaesthetic has worn off, usually after 20 to 60 minutes.
Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (if you have no medical reason which prevents you using non-steroidal painkillers) are available over the counter at a chemist or on prescription and can be used to help with the pain.
Sunglasses may help reduce light sensitivity
Avoid rubbing or touching your eye