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What Are the Different Ways to Treat a Scratched Eyeball?

Wearing sunglasses can help protect a scratched eyeball.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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Though a scratched eyeball can be alarming, the majority of cases can be treated within days, sometimes without leaving the house. The first step is to flush out the eye with water in order to remove any debris that may have caused the scratch. Removing pain and swelling is possible through a cold compress, followed by wearing sunglasses when outside to protect the eye as it heals. More severe scratches may require a trip to the doctor, who can diagnose the scratched eyeball and prescribe antibiotics to help it heal.

Symptoms of a scratched eyeball include blurred vision, excessive tears, redness, pain, irritation, sensitivity to light, and the sensation that there is something in the eye. If any of these symptoms are felt, it is important to flush out the eye with water. This can be done by leaning over a sink and scooping water into the hands to pour into the eye, or even filling a sink with water and placing the head in it with the eyes open. Adding salt to the water can also help flush out any debris that may be causing damage. It is important to remove any contact lenses before flushing the eye with water.

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Once it is likely that the debris has been removed from the scratched eyeball, it is usually soothing to place a cold compress over the eye, as this will reduce inflammation and general irritation. Since the eye is likely sensitive to light, wearing sunglasses when outside can help reduce excessive tearing when exposed to the sun. In fact, it will likely be necessary to wear sunglasses outside just to see, since a scratched cornea can make it difficult to keep the eye open at all, let alone when outside. It may even be necessary to dim the lights when inside.

If these tips for treating a scratched eyeball do not seem to help reduce inflammation and discomfort, the scratch may be too severe or infected for home remedies. An ophthalmologist can use a special dye to temporarily stain the eye so that the debris in question can be located and removed. This kind of doctor can also prescribe antibiotic eye drops so that the eye can heal faster, though this treatment is also good to relieve pain since it tends to numb the eye. In some cases, it is necessary to get an eye drop that can dilate the eye so that it can deal with light while healing. Additionally, some severe cases of scratched eyeball require narcotic pain medication until the damage has healed, which usually takes a few days.

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Discuss this Article

stoneMason
Post 3

@fify-- You should go back to your doctor for a check-up to make sure that there isn't an infection and that the scratch is healing.

I've found lubricant eye drops very helpful while a scratched eye heals. When the eye is dry, it hurts more.

fify
Post 2

@anamur-- That's what my doctor gave me for my corneal abrasion (scratched eye)-- antibacterial ointment, in addition to antibiotic eye drops. I've used them as directed for five days but my eye still feels very irritated. Sometimes it actually stings.

I think my eye is still healing. Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?

serenesurface
Post 1

There is an antibacterial eye ointment that I always keep in the medicine drawer for emergencies.

If I get something in my eye, I wash my eye first with water and then I apply this ointment. Not only does it kill bacteria and prevent eye infections, but it also prevents scratches to the cornea from debris. Even if I think damage has already been done, I apply this ointment until I can see a doctor for more treatment.

This ointment has saved my eye from serious scratches and damage more than once.

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