Corneal abrasion and erosion

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear front window of the eye. It covers the iris (colored portion of the eye) and the round pupil, much like a watch crystal covers the face of a watch. The cornea is composed of five layers. The outermost layer is called the epithelium.

What is a corneal abrasion?

A corneal abrasion is an injury (a scratch, scrape or cut) to the epithelium. Abrasions are commonly caused by fingernail scratches, paper cuts, makeup brushes, scrapes from tree or bush limbs, and rubbing the eye. Some eye conditions, such as dry eye, increase the chance of an abrasion. You may experience the following symptoms with corneal abrasion:

To detect an abrasion on the cornea, your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) will use a special dye called fluorescein (pronounced FLOR-uh-seen) to illuminate the injury.

How is a corneal abrasion treated?

Treatment may include the following:

Minor abrasions usually heal within a day or two; larger abrasions usually take about a week. It is important not to rub the eye while it is healing. Do not wear contact lenses while the eye is healing; ask your ophthalmologist when you may start wearing your lenses again.

What is corneal erosion?

Corneal erosion is a wearing away of the epithelium layer of the cornea, often at the site of an earlier abrasion. It may occur spontaneously, often after awakening in the morning. Erosion may also occur in dry eyes. Symptoms are similar to those of a corneal abrasion: the feeling of something in your eye, pain and soreness of the eye, redness of the eye, sensitivity to light, tearing and blurred vision.

How is corneal erosion treated?

Treatment is the same for corneal abrasion, with the addition of salt solution eyedrops or ointment. If the corneal erosion keeps occurring, further treatment may be needed, including:

How can corneal abrasion and erosion be prevented?

For maximum protection:

Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Ophthalmology

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