A scratch on the surface of the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye
- Wearing contact lenses is a risk factor
- Age, gender, and genetics are not significant factors
The cornea, situated at the front of the eye, is susceptible to minor damage. For example, if it is scraped by the edge of a newspaper or by a foreign particle such as a speck of dirt, an injury known as a corneal abrasion may occur. People who wear soft contact lenses and rub their eyes excessively are particularly at risk of damage because tiny particles can become stuck behind a lens and scratch the surface of the cornea.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a corneal abrasion usually occur suddenly. They include:
Pain in the eye.
Redness and watering of the eye.
Sensitivity to bright light.
A corneal abrasion is not usually serious. However, there is a risk that the abrasion may become infected and a corneal ulcer may develop.
What might be done?
Painkillers will relieve the discomfort of an abrasion, but you should consult your doctor or go to an accident and emergency department for treatment. The doctor will place drops containing fluorescein dye in your eyes and examine them with an instrument known as a slit lamp (see Slit-lamp examination). If an abrasion is highlighted by the dye, your doctor may recommend an eye patch and also prescribe antibiotic eyedrops to prevent infection and ulceration (see Drugs acting on the eye). A corneal abrasion usually heals within a few days.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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