Corneal abrasion, also referred to as scratched cornea or scratched eye, is a medical condition typically characterized by the loss of surface epithelial layer of the cornea―the transparent cover that protects the iris and pupil. It can be caused due to a range of factors, including the intrusion of some foreign body in the eye. While the treatment is quite simple in most of the cases, the healing time may range from 2 – 3 days to several months depending on the severity of the condition.
How Long Does a Corneal Abrasion Take to Heal?
Like we said before, corneal abrasion healing time largely depends on the size and severity of the abrasion, and the treatment option that the person has been subjected to. Minor abrasions don't necessarily need medical attention, but the person will have to take some precautionary measures to ensure that the condition doesn't worsen with time. Nevertheless, minor abrasions are known to heal within 2 – 3 days after the initiation of treatment. In contrast, severe abrasions, which generally affect half of the surface area of cornea, usually take a couple of weeks―months at times―to heal completely.
The chances of infection exist in plenty (even after the scratched surfaced has healed), and therefore, the ophthalmologist will prescribe topical antibiotic to prevent infection and topical cycloplegic to reduce pain and discomfort. Additionally, antibiotic or steroid eye drops may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and stop eye muscle spasms. If the diagnosis reveals the presence of any rusted metal particle in the eye, a tetanus shot will be given to avoid further complications.
Phototherapeutic keratectomy: Studies reveal that around 28 percent people with traumatic corneal abrasions experience recurrent symptoms for up to 3 months from the time of injury. In such cases, the person may have to undergo phototherapeutic keratectomy―a laser eye surgery meant to treat various ocular disorders. If the person undergoes this surgery, it may take several months for the person to recover completely.
Corneal Transplant: In extreme cases, corneal abrasion may lead to severe complications, such as corneal ulcer, and corneal transplant may become necessary to restore vision. In such cases, vision is restored after about a year from corneal transplant. While the healing time is relatively longer in cases of large abrasions, significant developments are observed as soon as treatment is initiated. Throughout the recovery period, the person has to be careful as to not put too much pressure on the affected eye.
If corneal abrasion is left untreated or if the treatment is delayed for that matter, the chances are that it may worsen and eventually lead to visual impairment. Even though that's rare, it's wise to refrain from taking any unnecessary risk, especially when your eyesight is at stake. Simple precautions, like wearing protective gear and promptly getting rid of any foreign particle entering your eye, can also let you live in peace by keeping such eye problems at bay.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.