What is a corneal abrasion, how long does it take to heal, and is it possible for a corneal abrasion to heal on its own? The idea of having your eye torn or scratched is not a pleasant one; for many, it’s downright frightening.
The good news is that most corneal abrasions (aka corneal scratches) are minor and will heal in a few days. However, corneal abrasions should never be taken lightly. Knowing what is a corneal abrasion worth worrying about can help you avoid potential infections and vision loss.
Let’s review the basics of corneal abrasions so that the next time you get something in your eye, you’ll already know the answer to the question, “What is a corneal abrasion?”
What are some common corneal abrasion causes?
As you might suspect, there are a variety of ways you can scratch your eye and cause a corneal abrasion. Makeup, sand, and even your own fingers are common corneal abrasion causes.
Rubbing your eyes can make an abrasion more likely, and failing to wear protective equipment while performing work that involves flying particles (mowing the lawn, construction, etc.) can also make a corneal abrasion more likely.
Keep in mind that contact lenses are a common culprit, as well. If you wear your contact lenses for too long or if you don’t take proper care of them, they could easily lead to a corneal abrasion.
How do you know if you have a corneal abrasion?
How do you know if you actually have a corneal abrasion as opposed to another eye issue? Your cornea — the clear, protective outer layer of your eye — is chock full of nerve endings. So having even a small particle in your eye can feel like somehow you got a boulder wedged in there. That said, corneal abrasions are often accompanied by telltale signs and symptoms.
So, what does a scratched cornea feel like?
- You might feel like there’s something stuck in your eye (like sand)
- You could experience blurry vision or light sensitivity
- You might feel pain when you open or close your eyes
- Your eyes could appear red, start to tear up, or even twitch
- You might feel nauseous or have unexplained headaches
For more extensive information, please read our article regarding scratched cornea symptoms, which outlines what you may be feeling in more detail.
Can a scratched eye heal on its own?
It is possible for a minor abrasion to heal on its own. However, it’s always wise to get a professional opinion regarding the existence or severity of a corneal abrasion, as treatment can help a minor abrasion from becoming worse.
And if you do wind up with a deeper scratch, ignoring it can lead to further complications. Larger abrasions can easily become infected, which in turn can lead to permanent vision loss, scarring, corneal ulceration.
How do you treat a corneal abrasion?
If you feel as though you have something stuck in your eye, immediately rinse your eye with clean water. Do not rub your eyes or touch your eye with your fingers, as doing so could make a scratch worse (or create an abrasion even if you did not have one before).
If your eye remains uncomfortable after you’ve rinsed it a few times, consider calling a doctor. Most professionals recommend antibiotic eye drops for even a minor abrasion, but other treatments may also be deemed necessary.
Treatments options for a corneal abrasion:
- Eye drops or antibiotic ointment (to provide a protective layer)
- Special contact lenses (to ease pain and speed up the healing process)
- Steroids (to help with inflammation)
- An eye patch (to protect your eye from further damage)
How long does a corneal abrasion take to heal?
Minor abrasions often heal within a few days — sometimes as soon as 24 hours later. However, deeper abrasions can take up to two weeks or longer to heal. The length of time it takes for your abrasion to heal will depend on the severity of damage inflicted, how quickly you seek treatment, and how diligent you are with aftercare.
Think you might have scratched your cornea? Call Eye Center of Texas.
If you think you have recently scratched your eye and are just starting to find answers to the question, “What is a corneal abrasion,” consider seeing an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. When it comes to the health of your eyes, it’s not worth it to take risks.
Eye Center of Texas is home to some of the best eye doctors in Houston. Our nationally recognized ophthalmologists can help you determine whether or not you have scratched your cornea, recommend treatments, and follow up with you on your healing.
We’re here for Houston’s eyes. Request an appointment online or give us a call at 713-797-1010.
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