A scratched cornea or corneal abrasion can cause a lot of discomfort and can disrupt daily activities in severe cases. This injury involves a scratch on the clear surface of the eye that covers the colored region which is called the iris. Any scratch on the cornea has the potential to be serious, but it is good to know that the cornea is considered one of the tissues in the body that has the capacity to heal at a fast rate.
How a scratched cornea occurs
An individual can scratch the cornea in various ways. One of the common causes is when a tree branch strikes an individual in the face while outdoors or during work. Being poked in the eye accidentally while engaging in sports or playing with children are also possible causes. Any object that is being blown into the eye or falls into the eyes such as grains of sand, pieces of wood, paint chips and metal fragments can result to a scratched cornea.
Symptoms of a scratched cornea
Once the initial pain diminishes, it is important to assess the damage. A symptom of a scratched cornea is the feeling of something in the eye. The eyes are also susceptible to increased tear production, blurry vision or even the loss of vision in severe cases. Take note that the affected eye will hurt if the individual attempts to look at bright lights and he/she can squint due to a sensitivity to light.
When to seek medical care
It is vital to seek emergency care for a scratched cornea, particularly if it is related to a work accident. Once the individual is taken to the hospital, the doctor utilizes various ways to determine the extent of damage. Eye drops are applied that numb the eye so that it will be examined. Another type of eye drop known as fluorescein can also be used. This is yellow in color and once it is applied on the affected eye, the doctor will use a device that produces a blue light that can expose a cornea that is scratched. If you want to be sure, it is best to consult a doctor even for a minor scratch just to be sure.
Treating a scratched cornea
A corneal abrasion can be treated in different ways depending on the severity. Minor cases can be treated by applying artificial tears and providing pain medications. For severe cases, it would require antibiotic eye drops as well as steroidal drops to minimize the swelling. Based on some studies, it is not advised to use a patch since it is better to keep the eye open as it heals.
In most cases of corneal abrasions, it should not take longer than 24-48 hours to properly heal. Even in cases of serious injuries, the healing process will take a short time frame.