The term abrasion means scratch and corneal abrasion is the presence of any scratches on the cornea. The cornea is the protective layer of tissue over iris and pupil of the eye. When any dirt falls into the eye it affects the cornea causing mild scratches called as corneal abrasion. It will cause discomfort, irritation and pain. Always remember to wash your eyes with clear cool water when something falls into it and do not rub your eyes which will worsen the condition. Since the cornea has multiple nerve endings below its surface any scratches on the cornea will be more painful.
You can get something poked into the eyes like fingernail or edges of plant or even your eyeliner or brush. Dirt, debris, ash or sand can enter into your eyes and get blocked. Any insect can sting the eyelids causing scratches on the cornea. Constant rubbing of your eyes, wearing poor fitting lenses, eye infections and eye injury can damage the cornea.
A piece of sawdust or sand can find its way into the eyes affecting the upper eyelids causing scratches and pain. In some cases, a tiny metal fragment can fly into your eye if you are not using protective covering on your eyes.
The first symptom during corneal abrasion is the gritting sensation due to presence of foreign particle. There will be pain, irritation and watery eyes. Except for chemical injury corneal abrasions are seen only in one eye. Your vision will become blurred or distorted for some time. There can be eye pain and difficulty in opening the eyes. Eye inflammation or swelling of eyelids caused by spasm of the eye muscles that surrounds the cornea is present. The infected eye becomes sensitive to light and there will be excess of tears.
A diagnosis is pretty simple and straightforward. Your ophthalmologist will observe your eyes through microscope for detecting eye infection or injury. He would apply eye drops on the affected eye for dilating it so that it becomes clear during examination.
When you sense any foreign particle on your eyes do not rub your eyes instead blink it several times. Gently pull the upper eyelid on the lower eyelid. Wash your eyes with cool water or saline solution. You can dip your eyes into a sink filled with cool water keeping it wide open. This will facilitate the movement of dust or any foreign substance to the corner of the eyes that can be removed safely.
Special rinsing solutions are available in the laboratory for washing the eyes. You can use it for cleaning the dirt from the eyes. Some people will push the particle deep into the eyes in the attempt of removing it. It is better to visit your eye doctor immediately. He will gently remove the particle using special instrument without causing any strain to the cornea.
Antibiotic eye-drops or steroids are used for reducing inflammation and for treating scratches. You will get relief from pain and sensitivity after applying eye drops. After removal of debris from the eyes you should keep it closed for some time for healing.
In case of metallic deposits inside the eyes, your doctor will suggest tetanus vaccination after removing the same. If you have severe pain you will be prescribed pain relievers like ibuprofen. Follow the instructions of your eye doctor and wear sunglasses for added protection.
Some doctors would patch the eye depending on the situation. Minor scratches will heal easily and only on severe abrasion it will take long time for complete healing.
In rare cases, deep scratches can cause cornea erosion and scarring, which can cause partial loss of vision.
You can prevent corneal abrasion by taking protective measures. Always wear sunglasses or eyewear while taking part in sports activities and hiking. You can prevent windblown particles entering into the eyes by using protective eyewear.
Do not expose your eyes to bright sunlight for long time and wear protective glasses while taking part in skiing activities. Some time the reflection of sunlight on the snow or water will cause double exposure tearing the cornea muscles while indulging in skiing.