A corneal abrasion is an injury to the cornea, which is the tissue that covers the front part of the eye. Objects getting into the eye, scratches from a fingernail, or a dirty contact lens may cause a corneal abrasion. The injury to the cornea may cause pain, redness and blurred vision.
To determine if a person has a corneal abrasion, the physician will do an eye examination. To make the eye examination more comfortable, the physician may use anesthetic eye drops. Tests used to diagnose a corneal abrasion include a standard ophthalmic exam — in which the physician checks the person’s visual acuity, peripheral vision, 3D vision and eye muscles — and a slit-lamp exam — in which the physician uses a low-power microscope with a high-intensity light to examine the structures in the eye.
To examine the cornea, the physician may use a special yellow dye called fluorescein. MedlinePlus noted that the dye may be administered by putting drops in the eye or touching a thin strip of paper that has the dye on it to the white part of the eye. Tears rinse fluorescein from the eye.
Children’s Hospital Boston stated that for many cases, the corneal abrasion does not cause permanent eye damage. If the injury to the cornea results from an object in the eye, a cotton applicator or saline solution may be used to remove it.
If there are several cuts in the cornea, the patient may need to be cared for by an eye specialist. An eye patch may help decrease discomfort, which may be worn for 12 to 24 hours. In some cases, an antibiotic ointment may be used. The treating physician may prescribe eye drops for the patient.
If the patient wears contacts, she should abstain from wearing them until her affected eye is healed. Pain medications may help reduce pain and discomfort. MedlinePlus noted that injuries to just the surface of the cornea heal quickly and should be back to normal within two days.
Certain precautions can help reduce a person’s risk of a corneal abrasion. For example, people who work with power tools and chemicals should wear safety goggles. Protective eye wear should also be worn during high impact sports.