Abrasion - corneal; Scratch - corneal; Eye pain - corneal
Corneal injury is a wound to the part of the eye known as the cornea. The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue that covers the front of the eye. It works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina.
Injuries to the cornea are common.
Injuries to the outer surface may be due to:
Infections may also damage the cornea.
You are more likely to develop a corneal injury if you:
High-speed particles, such as chips from hammering metal on metal, may get stuck in the surface of the cornea. Rarely, they may penetrate deeper into the eye.
You will need to have a complete eye test. The health care provider may use eye drops containing fluorescein dye to help look for injuries.
Tests may include:
First aid for eye emergencies:
Anyone with severe eye pain needs to be seen in an emergency care center or examined by an ophthalmologist right away.
Treatment for corneal injuries may involve:
Most of the time, injuries that affect only the surface of the cornea heal very quickly with treatment. The eye should be back to normal within 2 days. For more serious injuries or when there may be delayed healing, placement of an amniotic membrane (from purified placental tissue) can be very helpful.
Injuries that penetrate the cornea are much more serious. The outcome depends on the specific injury.
Contact your provider if the injury is not better after 2 days of treatment.
Things you can do to prevent corneal injuries include:
Dang DH, Riaz KM, Karamichos D. Treatment of non-infectious corneal injury: review of diagnostic agents, therapeutic medications, and future targets. Drugs. 2022;82(2):145-167. PMID: 35025078 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35025078/.
Fowler GC. Corneal abrasions and removal of corneal or conjunctival foreign bodies. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 200.
Guluma K, Lee JE. Ophthalmology. In: Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 57.
Knoop KJ, Dennis WR. Ophthalmologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 62.
Rao NK, Goldstein MH. Acid and alkali burns. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.26.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 8/22/2022
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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