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Corneal Abrasion

Corneal Abrasion Facts

A corneal abrasion is a painful scrape or scratch of the surface of the clear part of the eye. This clear tissue of the eye is known as the cornea, the transparent window covering the iris, the circular colored portion of the eye. The cornea has many nerve endings just under the surface, so that any disruption of the surface may be painful.

What Causes a Corneal Abrasion?

  • A corneal abrasion may occur when something hits your eye. For example, while hiking, if the person in front of you pushes and lets go of a tree branch, it could hit your eye, causing an abrasion to the cornea.
  • A corneal injury may occur when something gets into your eye, for example, when the wind blows a dried leaf particle into your eye or when paint chips fall into your eye while you are scraping off old paint. This material may scratch the cornea.
  • A foreign body, such as a piece of sand or wood, may lodge under the inside of the upper lid and cause scratches of the corneal surface every time that you blink.
  • In addition to causing corneal injury, high-speed particles may penetrate your eye and injure deeper structures. An example of this would be a small metal fragment flying into the eye when a person is using a grinding wheel without protective eyewear. This may cause a serious injury that demands immediate medical attention to guard against permanent loss of vision.
  • A hot cigarette ash flying into the eye may cause a corneal abrasion.
  • A common cause of a corneal abrasion is a young child accidentally poking you in the eye with her fingernail.
  • You may cause a corneal abrasion when you rub your eyes excessively when they are irritated.
  • Wearing contact lenses longer than recommended may injure the corneal surface and cause a corneal abrasion.
  • Certain eye infections may also cause injury to the surface of the cornea. This injury, although not technically considered a corneal abrasion, may be temporary or permanent.
  • Exposure of the unprotected eye to ultraviolet light from sun lamps or welding arcs can cause changes in the corneal surface resembling corneal abrasions.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017

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Symptoms and Signs of Contact Lens Problems

Corneal Abrasion

It is not unusual to have some general irritation, even some redness, upon beginning contact lens wear. However, persistent redness, light sensitivity, pain, and blurred vision are the main signs and symptoms of potential eye problems. Depending on the cause, symptoms vary in intensity. In more serious infections, the pupil in the infected (red) eye may be smaller than the other pupil.

  • Corneal abrasions (scratches) are usually quite painful, with or without the lens in the eye, and are associated with light sensitivity and redness. Vision may or may not be blurry.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Corneal Abrasion »

Corneal abrasion is probably the most common eye injury and perhaps one of the most neglected.

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