There are few sensations worse than the feeling of getting something in your eye. Whether something blows into your peepers on a windy day or you accidentally poke your eye with your mascara brush, the pain is excruciating. But if you’re still experiencing pain, tearing, or redness hours later, it is likely that you have scratched your eye– a problem also known as corneal abrasion.
A corneal abrasion is a scratch or scrape on the cornea, which is the clear, round dome covering the iris and pupil. Usually, they heal fairly quickly, but sometimes they can lead to permanent scarring of the cornea, which can affect vision. In addition to pain, corneal abrasions can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity, and headaches. If a corneal abrasion occurs, here are some tips for what you should– and should not– do:
Rinse your eye with saline solution or clean water. Using a clean glass, rest the rim of the glass on the bone at the base of your eye socket, below your lower eyelid. The water or saline solution may flush the foreign object from your eye. Using artificial tear drops may help as well.
Blink. Blinking can help get rid of small bits of dust or sand in your eye.
Pull your upper eyelid over your lower eyelid. The lashes from your lower eyelid may be able to brush away any foreign object caught underneath your upper eye lid.
Wear sunglasses. If your eye is sensitive to light because of the scratch, wearing sunglasses will ease the symptoms while the scratch heals.
DON’T rub your eye. Though you may be tempted to do so, rubbing your eye can make the abrasion worse.
DON’T touch your eye with anything. Fingers, cotton swabs and other objects could hurt your eye more. Remember that the object that caused the scratch could be gone even though you still feel as if something is in your eye.
DON’T wear your contact lenses. Wearing your contacts will slow the healing process and could cause complications.
See your ilumin ophthalmologist if you scratch your eye. Most corneal abrasions are minor and will heal on their own in a few days. Your ophthalmologist may prescribe with antibiotic or steroid eye drops or ointment to lessen the risk of infection and decrease inflammation. Try to avoid abrasions altogether by remembering to wear protective eyewear when engaging in an activities where you risk injuring your eye.