As physically active beings, our bodies are prone to an occasional scratch, cut, or bruise every now and again. While some body parts are more resilient than others, when our eyes are exposed to damage it can set us back significantly. A scratch, puncture, or any other type of trauma to one’s cornea—the clear covering over the iris—creates a corneal abrasion.
Many different situations that can cause a corneal abrasion, the most common include getting poked in the eye, foreign objects like dust, dirt or sand lodging under the lid, rubbing eyes too hard, or a bacterial infection. For contact wearers, a corneal abrasion can occur by leaving contacts in for a long period of time or by using ill-fitting or unclean lenses. Thus, it is crucial for contact wearers to uphold sound contact maintenance, to avoid the chance of an abrasion occurring. If you find that your busy lifestyle does not afford you the time to nightly care for your lenses, consider daily contacts like the Acuvue 1-Day or other Dailies. More and more individuals are turning to this style of lenses in order to guarantee that they receive fresh, clean products every morning that, instead of worrying about storing and cleaning them at night, can simply toss.
It is rather difficult to ignore the discomfort leading up to an abrasion. Common symptoms may include feeling like there is sand in your eye, tearing, sensitivity to light, hazy vision, pain when opening and closing your eye, and blurred or loss of vision.
It is always important to refrain from rubbing your eyes if you feel that there is something stuck inside. This can cause the particle to further scrape and penetrate the cornea, causing an intense abrasion. Instead, try lifting your eyelid and blinking vigorously for a couple seconds in attempt to let it fall out. If that doesn’t work, make your way to the nearest faucet and place your eye under the running water to try and flush it out.
The type of treatment required for corneal abrasions depends on the amount of the damage, with most subsiding within 23-72 hours. Lesser injuries typically do not require any particular treatment, while larger abrasions may require application of a topical antibiotic for a few days. Deep scratches can cause scarring, which can impair vision and require a corneal transplant down the line.
Sometimes this condition may not be detected until hours after the first contact is made. It is important to pay close attention if you feel any type of discomfort occurring in your eyes. If you feel that your physical state is worsening, seek immediate medical care, as ignoring it can produce an unwanted infection. While corneal abrasions are not life threatening, and usually require a short recovery, it is still important to take action if you feel one initiating. Practicing eye safety and upholding proper maintenance will decrease the chance of a corneal abrasion, and increase the health and longevity of our eyes.