Cornea is the transparent, 0.5 mm thick, dome-like portion of the eye, that covers the iris, pupil and anterior chamber of the eye. When this clear, transparent part of the eye gets scraped or scratched, the condition is termed as corneal abrasion or scratched cornea. One should suspect scratched cornea if one has encountered an injury in the eye. Pain is a very common symptom, however, scratched cornea pain can be intense. Another symptom is the sensation of a foreign body in the eye, which makes one feel there is something in the eye that cannot get out. This symptom may emerge immediately after the injury or after a few hours.
Symptoms of Scratched Cornea
The other symptoms of scratched cornea that lead to eye problems are:
- Constant tearing of the eyes
- Sensitivity to visible light
- Eye pain when exposed to bright light (sunlight or bright indoor light)
- Swelling in the eye, known as corneal edema
- Increased reflexive eye blinking
- Redness of the eyeball
- Unable to blink normally
- Simple eye activities become painful
- Reddening of the eye
- Irksome feeling of wanting to rub the eye all the time
- Burning sensation in the eye
- Itchy feeling in the eyes
- Swelling of the entire eye
- Squinting due to the spasm of muscles surrounding the eye
- Crust formation of the eyelids, due to drying of excess tears.
- Blurred vision, which can lead to loss of vision (caused due to swelling of cornea)
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult an ophthalmologist within the next 24 hours. One should not neglect these symptoms. Blurred vision may result in loss of vision, which is why it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Moreover, until you receive medical attention, avoid any kind of visual activity. Avoid using lenses until the symptoms clear off and the ophthalmologist gives a thumbs up. Scratched cornea treatment is fairly simple and with the right treatment this condition can be healed within a span of 2-4 days. Some of the common treatments used to treat scratched cornea are antibacterial eye-drops and medicines to expand the pupil and use of a medicated eye-patch to protect the cornea temporarily.
What Causes a Scratched Cornea?
Abrasions on the cornea occur when some foreign particles hit the eye. The different corneal abrasion causes are:
- When a piece of wood or sand gets lodged under the upper eyelid of the eye, causing scratches on corneal surface every time the person blinks.
- Corneal abrasion can take place when hot cigarette ash goes flying into the eye.
- Extensive rubbing of the eyes due to irritation in the eyes can also lead to scratched cornea.
- Wearing contact lenses for more time than recommended can conduce corneal abrasions.
- Materials such as paint chips, which enter the eye while scraping old paint off the wall or dried leaf debris blowing into the eye by the wind can scratch the cornea.
- Besides the above, tiny particles of paint chips and leaves, high speed particles such as tiny metal fragments can also fly into the eye of those using grinding wheels without wearing protective gear. This is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention, as it can result in permanent loss of vision.
- Eyes left unprotected during exposure to ultraviolet light from welding arcs or sun lamps can conduce changes in the surface of the cornea, which bear semblance to corneal abrasions.
- Scratches on the cornea can also occur when poked accidentally by children in the eye.
The cornea appears transparent due to the absence of blood vessels and it is this transparent nature, that helps attain maximum vision clarity by pumping water from the endothelium layer and supplying oxygen from the tears. The cornea is a powerful refracting medium, thereby maximizing the focusing power of the eyes. However, this transparent window features the presence of scores of nerve endings, which is why this part is extremely sensitive. So take good care of your eyes!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.