Corneal abrasion

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A corneal abrasion involves a scratch to the surface of the cornea. This can occur if foreign objects scratch the eye surface such as gravel, metal fillings, sand or twigs. The cornea is a clear and protective layer that covers the iris and pupil.

What are the possible causes?

  • Foreign objects that enter the eye
  • Eye infections
  • Being poked in the eye by a fingernail
  • Wearing contaminated contact lenses
  • Chemical burns
  • Rubbing of the eyes forcefully


Corneal abrasion
The doctor might prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to prevent infection as well as pain medications.
  • Eye pain
  • Gritty sensation in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness
  • Feeling that there is something stuck in the eye
  • Headache
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visual disturbance or vision loss

Management for corneal abrasion

For minor cases of corneal abrasion, they typically heal on their own within 3 days. In severe cases, the healing takes a longer time.

  • The individual should avoid rubbing the eye if there is a sensation of a foreign object. It is best to blink the eyes several times.
  • The upper eyelid should be drawn gently over the lower lid and rinse the eye using clean water or a saline solution.
  • The doctor might prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to prevent infection as well as pain medications.
  • Until the eye is fully healed, avoid using contact lenses. Use sunglasses to reduce the discomfort from the glare of the sun and avoid rubbing the eye.

If a sensation of a foreign body persists without any relief, a doctor must be consulted. The doctor will examine the eye using a stain to visualize the eye surface and get rid of any foreign object.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a corneal abrasion is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage eye injuries including abrasions by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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