Corneal Abrasions

Dr. Burke is one of Cincinnati's most trusted resources concerning corneal abrasions in children.

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear front window of the eye. It covers the colored portion of the eye, much like the watch crystal covers the face of a watch. The cornea is composed of five layers. The outermost layer of the cornea is called the EPITHELIUM.

What is a corneal abrasion?

A corneal abrasion is an injury – a scratch or cut – to the corneal EPITHELIUM. This injury exposes many of the nerve fibers making corneal abrasions a very painful experience.

How will the cornea heal?

The corneal surface usually heals within a day or two at the most. Until the corneal epithelium heals, the eye may be very uncomfortable, may tear a lot, is usually light sensitive, and there is often a feeling that there is something in the eye – “foreign body sensation.”

How are corneal abrasions treated?

The most common method of treatment is to PATCH the scratched eye. This prevents the eye from blinking and keeps the hands away (i.e., NO RUBBING). For smaller abrasions or when a patch cannot be used for whatever reason, repeated applications of an ointment to the eye helps heal and soothe the eye by forming a barrier between the eyelid and the corneal abrasion. For the pain, use your preferred over-the-counter pain relief medication. If that is not sufficient, ask your ophthalmologist to prescribe something stronger.

How long till the cornea is all better?

Even though the surface layer usually heals within a day or two, deep and total healing may take more than 7 to 10 days. During this time the eye may still be slightly light sensitive and sensitive to the wind and the dust. Hard eye rubbing may also slow healing or even cause the abrasion to recur. Preventive eye medications and additional lubrication for several days after the patch has been removed is highly recommended.

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