Eye Matters
June 19, 2018
A scratched cornea can be very painful and potentially dangerous

Dear Doctor:

Several days ago, I woke up with intense pain in my left eye. I do not recall anything happening to my eye. My eyes were tearing excessively and all around me looked very hazy. It felt as if someone had poked me in the eye.

Several hours later, the symptoms subsided and I could see a bit better. I still have some difficulty focusing. What do you think it could be?

Answer: This sounds like a possible corneal abrasion. In layman’s terms – a scratched cornea.
The cornea is the clear surface of the eye that covers the colored portion of the front of the eye called the iris. Such a scratch can be very painful and potentially dangerous.

Such an abrasion can be acquired in many ways.

1. Getting poked in the eye accidentally
2. Small foreign bodies, grains of sand , paint chips, pieces of wood or metal fragments being blown into the eye
3. Excessive rubbing of the eyes
4. As a result of other eye infections and diseases

The main symptoms are a foreign body feeling in the eye, pain and sometimes extreme sensitivity to light and tearing. In some cases vision may become blurry.

If the accident occurred from a flying object, at work or the symptoms are persistent, it is imperative to seek help from a medical practitioner. Your doctor will instill an anesthetic eye drop to numb the pain and also use a yellowish-green eye drop called fluorescein to colour the eye so that the scratch can be better identified.

The main objective is to rule out a perforating injury.

A special blue light is used over the eye to see the scratch better.

Minor abrasions are treated with artificial tears and pain killers. It may be necessary to use antibiotics to prevent infection and in some cases anti-inflammatory eye drops may be necessary.

Often times the eye may need to be patched to reduce glare sensitivity and discomfort.

Healing for minor abrasions is quite fast, between 24-48 hours. This is because the cornea is the fastest healing organ in the human body.

Severe abrasions can take a bit longer. Your doctor will also have to rule out dry eye syndromes, an ulcer in your eye or a perforating injury.

In any case it is important to follow up with your eye care practitioner to rule out any complications