Signs of corneal abrasion
Signs and symptoms of a scratched eye include:
- Feeling like you have sand or grit in your eye
- Painful eyes, especially when opening or closing
- Teary or watering eyes
- Red eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
If you experience any of these symptoms or changes to vision, it’s important to get your eyes checked quickly.
Causes of a scratched eye
There are many ways to get a corneal abrasion. No matter the size, anything that contacts the surface of the eye can cause injury.
Common causes of a corneal abrasion include airborne particles such as dust or sand, and any object which hits the open eye, for example during children’s playtime or DIY activities.
Dry eyes can increase your risk of corneal abrasion through insufficient lubrication of the eye. Dry areas cause the corneal surface to become fragile and therefore much more likely to become damaged, even during something as simple as rubbing your eye.
Can a corneal abrasion be prevented?
If you feel like there’s something in your eye, your natural reaction might be to rub it. Try to refrain from this as it can cause a scratch. Instead, to prevent this try these techniques:
- Blink several times
- Rinse your eye out with water
- Use a saline solution to clean the eye
If you feel like there is something in your eye, avoid rubbing it to stop further damage. Always wear eye protection when there is a risk of eye damage – for example working in a dusty environment or amongst thick vegetation and when doing DIY.
If you do feel something in the eye, blink a few times to see if this dislodges it and, if not, gently rinse your eye out with clean water or a sterile saline solution. If the pain or discomfort persists, seek medical attention.
How serious is a corneal abrasion?
The severity of a corneal abrasion is determined by the size and position of the abrasion and how deeply it damages the cornea. Eye pain doesn’t always represent the amount of damage, so it is always best to get the eye checked by an eye professional.
While the majority of scratches will self-heal, they do have the potential to get infected or form a scar which can cause permanent damage to the eye and affect your vision.
Corneal abrasion treatment
The majority of corneal abrasions slowly self-heal over several days. However, because the surface damage makes the eye more susceptible to infection, scratched eye treatment can require antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
How long does a corneal abrasion take to heal?
Healing time depends on the size of the corneal abrasion. Smaller corneal abrasions take as little as two to three days to heal, while bigger scratches can take four to five days.