What is a Corneal Abrasion?

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the eye’s cornea. The cornea is the clear, protective covering over the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil (the black circle in the middle of the eye). It’s important both for vision and for protecting the eye. If you poke your eye or if something gets trapped under your eyelid — such as dirt or sand — your cornea may become scratched. When it does, it can cause significant pain and discomfort.

What causes a corneal abrasion?

• Being poked in the eye
• Dirt, dust, sand or some other foreign matter blowing into your eye and getting caught under the eyelid
• Chemical burns
• Aggressive eye rubbing
• Poor fitting or dirty contact lenses
• Certain types of eye infections

Symptoms of a corneal abrasion may include:

• Foreign body sensation
• Eye pain, especially when opening or closing your eye
• Tearing and redness
• Sensitivity to light
• Blurred vision or loss of vision
• Headache

Often, the first reaction to something getting in your eye is to want to rub it. But don’t! Rubbing can cause an abrasion. Gently rinse your eye out with clean water or a saline solution. Do not rub the eye while rinsing it. If you still feel like something is caught in your eye, see your eye doctor as soon as possible, or go to the emergency room. The eye doctor will examine your eye and use a special eye stain to better see the surface of the cornea. If something is on the cornea, the doctor can safely remove it.
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