Help! What do I do if…I scratch my cornea?

Help! What do I do if… I scratch my cornea?

Anyone who has ever experienced an abrasion (or scratch) to the cornea will agree: it hurts! Pain, tearing, light sensitivity, and a foreign body sensation, along with blurred or decreased vision, are common symptoms after a corneal abrasion. These symptoms can range from mild to so severe that they stop a person in their tracks and put them out of commission for several days.

How do they happen? The causes we hear most often at Seema Eye Care are usually simple accidents involving fingernails (sometimes your own, but usually your toddler’s), cats and dogs, and branches or leaves from trees and plants. It’s a fact of life that sometimes these little events are unavoidable. So what should you do if you find yourself in this uncomfortable situation?

Recently, a friend of one of our staff members experienced a corneal abrasion while removing a contact lens. It hurt a lot, and she was having trouble functioning in her regular daily activities. After stopping by a pharmacy, she found some numbing eye drops that brought immediate relief and needed to be re-applied every 20 minutes or so to prevent the pain from coming back. The problem with those magical numbing drops? They prevent corneal healing, and in cases of overuse can actually cause severe damage to the cornea! Our staff member’s first step to help that friend out was to tell her to put down the numbing drops and make an appointment with her ophthalmologist or optometrist as soon as possible.

In the event that you experience a corneal abrasion, the most important thing to do is contact an eye care professional in order to have a proper slit lamp examination of your eye. This allows your ophthalmologist or optometrist to determine if there is any risk of infection or long-term damage, and what the next step for treatment should be. There are a lot of options to help you cope with the discomfort, including increased lubrication with preservative-free artificial tears, medicated drops to prevent infection, and bandage contact lenses to aid in healing and comfort. The big takeaway message here is that your eye care professional should be the one to advise you of the best treatment method, and they should monitor your healing to ensure there are no complications or further issues that need to be addressed. While those numbing drops seem tempting, we can assure you there are better treatment plans that are in your best interest to pursue. Remember, your sight is important, and eye care professionals are in the business of keeping you seeing your best for as long as possible!

*Please note that this post is to be used as an educational tool, and Dr. Al-Ghoul and the team at Seema Eye Care do not recommend you use this as a substitute for proper eye care. Please contact our office or your nearest eye care facility for medical attention if required.