Corneal Abrasions

The cornea is the “windshield” of the eye that covers the iris (the color part of the eye). A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the surface of the cornea. The cornea is loaded with nerves making it very, very sensitive. So any scratch on the surface can be extremely painful. The eye typically becomes red, light sensitive, and sometimes visibly swollen. As the eyelid blinks and rubs against the abrasion it will be very uncomfortable and feel like something is in the eye. Common causes of abrasions are fingernail pokes to the eye, mascara brushes, and tree branches.

The abrasion can be diagnosed by using fluorescein dye in the eye, which will stain the abraded area green.

The abrasions can heal on their own over a few days. Typically an antibiotic drop or ointment is prescribed to prevent an infection. A special bandage contact lens can be placed on the eye to immediately decrease the symptoms of pain and allow the cornea to heal.

Patient with left corneal abrasion before (left) and immediately after (right) bandage contact lens placed onto the left eye. The pain is much less and he can now open the eye comfortably.