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How Do I Choose the Best Corneal Abrasion Treatment?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Corneal abrasion is slight damage to the cornea or the front tissue of the eye. This “scratch” on the surface of the eye tends to heal within one to two days. Corneal abrasion treatment involves medical treatment with eye inspection, removal of any matter in the eye, prescription of antibiotic drops and occasionally steroid drops, and possibly eye patching.

About one in ten emergency room visits are a result of this eye injury. It is extremely painful because the cornea is connected to so many nerves. Even minute scratches make it difficult to open the eye or blink, cause pronounced tearing, and make the eyes extremely sensitive to light.

People may know why they have this condition. Possibly something got in the eye or the eye was accidentally poked, but sometimes the reason is unclear, and self-examination of the eye may not reveal much. One thing recommended is to wash the eye to remove any particulate matter, but if chemicals in the eye are a likely cause of eye pain, people should adhere to instructions about how to treat the eye for that chemical.

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Frequently, people end up at emergency rooms or at doctors’ offices to get eye injury or corneal abrasion treatment. A basic examination for this condition includes paralyzing the eye to locate and properly diagnose the injury. When diagnosis is made, corneal abrasion treatment begins. Typically, any matter in the eye that could cause the irritation is removed, though there may be nothing to remove, and doctors prescribe antibiotic eyedrops to prevent infection.

Doctors typically ask patients to rest as much as possible for the rest of the day and to avoid activities that use the eyes like reading, driving and using the computer. Contact lens wearers are asked to wear glasses for a few days and the doctor may propose a recheck of the eye in one to two days. Home treatments are essentially rest, administering antibiotic drops, using sunglasses in strong indoor light or outside, and avoiding contact lenses.

One aspect of corneal abrasion treatment that invites debate is eye patching. This treatment used to be standard, but present medical wisdom suggests it isn’t that beneficial. Creating pressure on the eye may make it more painful, and it may restrict bloodflow to the eye, which delays healing. Most doctors have shifted to the position that patching isn’t necessary for a simple corneal abrasion, though it may be needed for more complex eye injuries.

Recurrent corneal abrasion treatment may be slightly different. Doctors may try to discern the cause, like ongoing exposure to irritants or particles, sleeping with contact lenses, or dry eyes from medication. Efforts are made to prevent recurrence through avoidance of behaviors that may cause abrasions, by using antibiotic or lubricating drops at night, or by a combination of both. Each individual abrasion case is typically treated by the methods stated above.

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