Corneal abrasion (scratch): First aid

What is Corneal abrasion (scratch): First aid?

Corneal abrasion, also known as a corneal scratch, is a common eye injury that can cause significant discomfort and vision problems. It occurs when the cornea, the clear, protective layer covering the front of the eye, is scratched or damaged. This injury can happen as a result of various factors, such as foreign objects getting into the eye, rubbing the eye too vigorously, or even from contact lens wear. While small abrasions may heal on their own within a couple of days, larger or deeper scratches may require medical intervention.

  • Corneal abrasions can be caused by contact with dust, dirt, sand, wood shavings, metal particles, or contact lenses. If you get corneal abrasions from plant matter, they are usually superficial scratches on the clear front window of your eye (the cornea). Pine needles can cause delayed inflammation inside the eye (iritis).

Corneal abrasion signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain

  • A gritty feeling in the eye

  • Tearing

  • Redness

  • Sensitivity to the light

  • Headache

If you injure your eyes, go to the hospital right away. If this injury is not treated, it could become an infection and result in a corneal ulcer. To take care of this problem immediately, do the following:

  • Wash your eyes with clean water or a saline solution.To clean your eye, you can use an eyecup or a small glass that is placed over the eye socket with the rim resting on the bone. If you have access to a work site eye rinse station, use it. Washing your eyes with water may remove a foreign object.

  • Blink several times. This may remove small particles.

  • Cover the lower eyelid with the upper eyelid.This may help you to remove the particle from your eye. Or it may cause your lower eyelashes to sweep away an object that is close to your upper eyelid.

Here are some tips to avoid making the injury worse:

  • Do not try to remove an object that is lodged in your eye or makes it difficult to close your eye.

  • Don't rub your eye after an injury.

  • Don't touch your eyes with cotton swabs, tweezers, or other instruments.

  • Don't wear contact lenses while your eye is healing--they could irritate the area and make the healing process slower.

Most corneal abrasions heal quickly.

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