Corneal injury involves minor scratches to the cornea. These injuries typically heal in 24-48 hours. In most cases, an antibiotic eye drop or ointment is prescribed to prevent the development of an eye infection.
It is vital to consult a doctor for proper assessment of the eye if corneal injury is suspected from a flying particle or from chemical exposure.
What are the possible causes?
The cornea is positioned in the front part of the eye. It is a transparent disc in front of the colored region of the eye and the pupil. The blinking reflex protects the cornea from most injuries. Nevertheless, corneal injury such as scratches can occur usually from a fingernail, while putting on contact lenses or being scraped by a tree branch.
Initially, the pain can be intense even from a minor scratch since the cornea is highly sensitive. The eye waters profusely and the individual could not bear to open it.
Small-sized flying objects
Small flying particles such as wood, metal or other debris can enter the eye even before blinking which leads to the following:
- The particle is stuck in the cornea which triggers pain comparable to a corneal scratch.
- In some cases, the particle moves directly through the cornea to the deeper part of the eye. For small particles, it is usually painless or only cause minor pain. This penetration though can be serious since it can trigger infection within the eye or loss of fluid that can affect vision permanently.
Oftentimes, a chemical might splash to the front part of the eye and trigger a burn. Household cleaning products such as bleach can cause damage.
How a corneal injury is managed
If a chemical is responsible for corneal injury, there are immediate measures to perform which include the following:
- In case contact lenses are used, they should be removed.
- Wash out the eye with water for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Alkali-based substances such as lime must be completely washed out due to its damaging effects.
After these measures are carried out, bring the individual to the nearest emergency department.
A minor scratch to the cornea typically heals for several days. Eye infection is a possible complication that can develop after a corneal injury. In such cases, an antibiotic eye drop or ointment is used. In addition, pain medications can also be used to reduce the pain.