Scratch Cornea

Advice from Your Optometrist about a Scratched Cornea

A scratched cornea is one of the most common eye injuries. Here are three frequently asked questions answered by Dr. Martha Nguyen-Keelan and Dr. Patrick Keelan of Keelan Eyecare in Brick Township, NJ.


What is a scratched cornea?

If you have ever suffered a corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, there is no doubt you’re aware of it. Your cornea is filled with nerve endings that send an alarm to your brain as soon as you get something in your eye. A simple fallen eyelash can feel like a log into your eye.

A scratched cornea isn't like getting an eyelash turned under your eyelid or a speck of dust in your eye. A scratched cornea involves an injury to the surface protecting your eye, and it will be painful until it heals. Every time you blink you will feel pain because your eyelid passes over the surface of your eye. Healing can take up to a week, and during that time you will experience watery eyes, redness, increased sensitivity to light, blurry vision, decreased vision, and headaches. Sometimes these symptoms don't begin until several hours after your injury, but sometimes they start right away.

What causes a scratched cornea?

Most of the time our eyelashes do a good job of keeping abrasive particles out of our eyes, and tears flush potentially injurious particles away. However, from time to time, anything from fingernails to pet claws to makeup brushes to sports equipment can injure your eyes. Children, teens, and adults of all ages can experience scratched corneas.

What should I do about a scratched cornea?

There are some things that are always a good idea for treating a scratched cornea:

  • Rinsing your eyes with saline solution.
  • Blink regularly.
  • Wear sunglasses if you are sensitive to light.
  • Call your optometrist immediately.

And there are other things that are never a good idea when you have a scratched cornea:

  • Rubbing your eye.
  • Trying to remove foreign objects from your eye with tweezers or a Q-tip or even a cotton swab.
  • Wearing contact lenses.
  • Putting a patch over your eye unless your eye doctor tells you to.

It's always better to see your optometrist sooner rather than later. For a minor abrasion to your cornea, the optometrist may just send you home with lubricating drops to reduce pain and inflammation while your cornea heals on its own. In some cases, your eye doctor will place a special silicone contact lens over your eye to act as a "bandage lens" while your eye heals. You absolutely, positively, must follow the instructions your doctor gives you for home eye care and you must make and keep appointments for follow-up care.

Keelan Eye Care is here to help

Dr. Martha Nguyen-Keelan and Dr. Patrick Keelan are ready to be your optometrist in Brick Township. Request an appointment online or call us at (732) 458-4800. Keelan Eye Care is located at 149 Van Zile Rd, Brick Township, NJ, 08724.

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