The eye is a sensitive organ of the human body. It has so many parts. Some are visible to the ordinary eye while a lot of them are covered by the upper and lower eyelids. The visible parts include the pupil, iris, and cornea.
These visible parts of the eye are arranged in concentric circles with the pupil being the innermost. The pupil is followed by the iris, which gives the eye its colour, and then, there is the cornea that covers these two parts.
The cornea is essential in its capacity to receive and coordinate the light that enters the eyes. It is a highly irritable part of the eye as it can be scratched by dust, contact lenses, or even fingernails.
Minor corneal scratches are called corneal abrasions and generally heal fast. In this article, you will learn the symptoms of corneal abrasion, and how to diagnose, treat and prevent it.
What are the symptoms of a corneal abrasion?
As mentioned earlier, a corneal abrasion is a minor, superficial scratch on the cornea. These scratches are often followed by:
- A blurry vision
- Eye tearing
- Redness of the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Sometimes, a headache
This is mostly due to the attachment of many nerve endings to the eyes. What this means is that any slight irritation or injury to the eye can trigger these responses which present as a symptom.
Diagnosis of corneal abrasion
Ideally, you should seek out a healthcare provider when you feel grittiness in your eye or any of the symptoms listed above. You will be given eye drops for eye muscle relaxation and pupil dilation.
These drops and a pain relief eye drop that may be given to you will help you feel less pain upon eye examination. Additionally, an eye stain called a fluorescein eye stain will be dropped in the affected eye. This helps to emphasize any scratch in your cornea by providing contrast during examination with an ophthalmoscope.
Some magnification tools and lamps will then be used to check for scratches in your eye before corneal abrasion is diagnosed.
Treatment of corneal abrasion
If your eye comes in contact with any of the irritants mentioned to scratch the cornea, you should rinse your eye out with clean water or a sterile saline solution, if you have access to one. Your healthcare provider might also prescribe some antibiotics to prevent infection.
Other medicated eye drops may be added to offer pain relief and stop eye redness. Corneal abrasions are minor and heal quickly but while on treatment, it is best to not rub the affected eye or wear contact lenses. Also, sun shades can help to ameliorate pain due to sensitivity to light.
Prevention of corneal abrasion
One of the best ways to prevent a corneal abrasion is to avoid contact with all materials that can cause a corneal scratch. When carrying out an activity that causes particles to fly around such as gardening, mowing the lawn, or even working with tools and chemicals, wear protective goggles.
Do not rub your eye if something enters it as that is mostly how scratches are sustained. Rather, rinse your eyes with water or blink several times. This should remove any foreign material without causing a scratch. But if this does not work, you should go see your healthcare provider.
Corneal abrasions are surface injuries. With adequate care and no contact with objects, substances or situations that can worsen the scratches, they usually resolve after a few days.
It is best to go see an eye doctor immediately when the eye comes in contact with any potentially harmful object. This way, the severity of injury can be assessed and treatment given accordingly.