Your cornea, the clear protective covering of your eye, can be scratched (abraded) by dirt, sand, tree branches, or any other foreign particle that comes in contact with your eye.
Dry eyes can also cause corneal abrasions if your eyes become so dry while sleeping that your eyelids stick to your corneas. Contacts that are dirty or worn too long can also cause corneal abrasions.
Healthy, intact corneas are essential to good vision, so if corneal abrasion symptoms continue it is important to get medical attention to prevent your eye from becoming infected or developing a corneal ulcer.
Symptoms of a Scratched Cornea
Your corneas have nerve endings that are extremely sensitive to touch, temperature, and chemicals. The most common symptoms of a scratched cornea is pain and a feeling that there is something in your eye (also known as a foreign body sensation). Other symptoms include redness, tearing, light sensitivity, blurry vision, headache, and occasionally nausea.
First Aid for a Scratched Cornea
Don’t rub your eye. Rubbing your eye will further scratch your cornea. Instead, flush your eye with a sterile saline solution. Don’t use tap water. Microorganisms that can cause serious eye infections could be in tap water and a scratched cornea will enable them to enter deeper regions of your eye.
Blink several times and pull your upper eyelid down over your lower eyelid. This may cause you to produce additional teas which can wash out the particle in your eye.
Don’t try to remove an object that is in your eye or touch your eye with cotton swabs or any other instruments. Consult your eye doctor.
How to Prevent Corneal Abrasions
If you work in an environment with airborne debris, always wear safety goggle. It is also a good idea to wear protective eyewear when using power tools, playing sports, or doing yard work.
If you wear contacts, always follow your eye doctor’s recommendation and use the proper lens care solutions.
If pain, redness, or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye continues after the saline rinse, seek medical attention because corneal abrasions can cause permanent damage in less than a day. If there is an object embedded in your eye or if chemicals entered your eye, seek immediate emergency medical attention.
If you wear contact lenses and feel you have any of the symptoms of a corneal abrasion, do not wear your lenses until you have been examined by your doctor. This could be the first sign of a serious infection.
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