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How to Relieve the Pain Caused by Corneal Abrasion?

Published on Oct 10, 2015 and last reviewed on Dec 01, 2020   -  5 min read


What to do if you scratch your eye? If you have eye pain, foreign body sensation, or excessive tearing after scratching your eye, it can be a sign of corneal abrasion.

How to Relieve the Pain Caused by Corneal Abrasion?

What Is Corneal Abrasion?

Scratched cornea of the human eye is also known as a corneal abrasion. Cornea is a colored protective layer over the iris and the pupil. The corneal layer is important for vision, filtration of harmful rays such as intense ultraviolet rays, and protection. Corneal injury means injury to the epithelial surface of the eye (most superficial layer). Abrasion is limited to the topmost five layers of the cornea. Any dust or sand particles trapped inside the eyelid lead to scratching of the cornea. Scratching of the cornea leads to pain, heaviness, and discomfort. Eye scratching ranges from small to large abrasion. Although abrasions usually do not cause permanent vision loss or blindness, to rule out other serious complications, get a medical second opinion online.

What Causes Corneal Abrasion?

What Are the Precautionary Measures?

Sign and Symptoms of Corneal Scratching

Symptoms are present from few minutes to several days.

How Is Corneal Abrasion Diagnosed?

Slit lamp examination and fluorescein instillation is useful to confirm the exact diagnosis. Ocular CT scan and MRI are also useful for large erosions. Corneal ulcer is a one of the complications. Bacterial culture is necessary before instillation of antibiotics.

How to Treat Pain Due to Corneal Scratching?

Purpose for treatment is to reduce pain and complications. Healing takes time. Sometimes healing takes more time and also requires extensive treatment.

Treatment is initiated with removal of contact lenses. Washing of the eyes should be done with cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. If any foreign particles are trapped into eyelids, it will be removed immediately with the help of cotton wool.

Sometimes doctor has to use fine needle to remove or lift particles from the eyes. That time local anesthetics are used to ease the pain. Doctor can easily remove this because eye surface is surprisingly very hard. Minor injury takes only 24 to 48 hours for healing. Deeper tissue scratching causes scarring of cornea and it is treated by corneal transplant.

Local Anesthetics:

It is used for analgesic effects. Anesthetic drugs are Tetracaine and Proparacaine.

  1. Tetracaine - it is used in the form of solution or ointment. It works by blocking of impulses to transmit through restriction of sodium permeability into neuronal membrane. Sodium is an essential part for depolarization (activation of cell). Its effect remains upto 30 minutes. And its effect starts within 1 to 2 minutes. Dose - instill 2 drops in both eyes every 4 hours as required for pain relief.
  2. Proparacaine - it has less irritating property. It works by providing stability to nerve cell through inhibition of initiation and transmission of impulses into cells due to impermeability of essential ions. Its effects start within 20 to 30 seconds after application and remains for a maximum of 20 minutes. Dosage is same as above.

Antibiotic Ointment:

Antibiotic ointments are very useful and first line of treatment in this case. Its usage is different in contact lenses user and non contact lenses users.

1. People Not Wearing Contact Lenses:

2. Contact Lens Wearers:

During treatment, use of contact lens must be avoided strongly.

What Are the Complications After Abrasion?

There are many complications due to eye abrasion such as scarring, fungal ulcers, amoebic keratitis (corneal infection by amoeba), pseudomonas (one type of bacteria) infection, corneal infiltrates or ulcers (local or diffused grayish area with inflammation and edema around cornea).

Even if a person has simple eye injury due to scratching, then he/she should consult an eyecare ophthalmologist within 24 to 48 hours -->


Frequently Asked Questions


How long does it take for a corneal abrasion to heal fully?

It usually takes about 2 to 3 days for superficial corneal abrasions to heal, as they tend to recover really fast. But sometimes, if there is an infection, inflammation, and scarring, then it might take longer, as has to be treated with antibiotics and corticosteroids.


Is a corneal abrasion an emergency?

Most corneal abrasions are not serious, and it heals on its own in a couple of days. But if the abrasion is deeper and left untreated, it can result in severe eye infection and corneal ulcer. So, you should consult a doctor to prevent an infection if you suspect corneal abrasion.


How is a corneal abrasion diagnosed and treated?

The doctor will use eye drops to relax the eye muscles to dilate your pupil and to highlight imperfections on the cornea. Then the doctor will use a special eye examination tool to look for scratches. Mild scratches do not need any treatment, but a deep scratch might need treatment with painkiller, antibiotic, and corticosteroid eye drops.


Can a corneal abrasion cause permanent damage?

Generally, a corneal abrasion does not cause permanent damage. It might temporarily cause eye pain and blurred vision.


What medication is used for corneal abrasion?

As a corneal abrasion can get infected, antibiotic eye drops are used. Mostly eye drops containing Erythromycin or Neomycin is used.


How do you know if you have a corneal abrasion?

If your eyes are red, watery, sensitive to light, and if you have blurred vision, headaches, and eye twitching, then there is a good chance that your cornea is abraded.


How long should you wait to wear contacts after corneal abrasion?

It is best to wait at least 7 to 10 days after your symptoms have been relieved before you wear contacts.


Can corneal abrasion cause swelling?

A corneal abrasion can result in eyelids swelling.


How to stop a corneal abrasion from hurting?

Lubricating eye drops can help to keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Dryness is the main cause of pain, so lubricating it will help the pain.


Can you sleep with a corneal abrasion?

You might find it difficult to sleep as your eyes will hurt and irritate. You can use lubricating eye drops to prevent friction and pain.

Last reviewed at:
01 Dec 2020  -  5 min read




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