Corneal abrasion is the type of an injury in which the delicate epithelium of the cornea is damaged. The injury represents a painful scrape or scratch of the surface of the cornea. In case of corneal abrasion the treatment includes application of eye drops, painkillers and eye patches.
In many cases corneal abrasion results from the entrance of foreign particles such as dust, dirt, sand etc into the eyes. Furthermore, the scratch can be caused by fingernails. In case the abrasion is superficial the wound heals properly and there is no permanent damage to the eyesight. Only if the wound affects deeper layers or it gets infected the eyesight may be damaged or permanently lost.
Symptoms of Corneal Abrasion
Corneal abrasion is very painful injury. The pain and discomfort are continuous and unbearable. Additional symptoms and signs of corneal abrasion include blurred vision, tearing of the eye and watery eyes, sensitivity to light and redness of the white of the eye.
Diagnosing Corneal Abrasion
Corneal abrasion is diagnosed by a well experienced ophthalmologist who uses an ophthalmoscope, the instrument used for examination of the eye. With this instrument an ophthalmologist confirms or rules out the presence of abrasion. Today many doctors use slit lamp microscopes to identify corneal injuries. These microscopes are very powerful and can visualize even the slightest interruption of the corneal epithelium.
Treatment for Corneal Abrasion
The treatment for corneal abrasion generally depends on the severity of the injury. The doctor examines the eye and estimates the extend of the damage.
The first medication given to people who have had corneal abrasion is in a form of eye drops. This is an antibiotic and its purpose is to prevent infection. Steroid eye drops may be administered as well and they reduce inflammation. The patients may also benefit from specific eye drops that reduce eye muscle spasm. These eye drops are highly effective when it comes to reduction of sensitivity to light.
The ophthalmologist may opt for eye patching. However, some doctors believe that patching may only have negative impact on the process of healing. In case there are rusty metal particles in the eye the patient requires proper protection against tetanus (immunization). The pain caused by corneal abrasion is brought under control with pain killers. By wearing sun glasses one can effectively reduce sensitivity of the damaged eye to light.
In extreme cases the wound may cause scarring of the cornea. This occurs in case of secondary bacterial infection or if the damage to the cornea affected deeper layers. Scaring of the cornea causes problems with vision. This complication of corneal abrasion is treated surgically.