A corneal abrasion is an injury to the epithelium, which is the outermost layer of the cornea. Abrasions are usually caused by fingernail scratches, paper cuts, make-up brushes, scrapes from tree limbs, and rubbing the eye. Some eye conditions such as dry eye increase the chance of an abrasion.



  • The feeling of having something in your eye
  • Pain and soreness of the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision


Your ophthalmologist will use a special dye called fluorescein to illuminate the injury in order to detect the abrasion. A slit lamp or microscope is usually used to examine the cornea and the eye.


Treatment may include the following:

  • Patching the injured eye to prevent eyelid blinking from irritating the injury
  • Applying lubricating eyedrops or ointment to the eye to form a soothing layer between the eyelid and the abrasion
  • Using antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Dilating the pupil to relieve pain
  • Wearing a special contact lens to help healing

Minor abrasions typically heal in a day or two; larger abrasions may take about a week. It is important not to rub the eye while it is healing. Also, do not wear your usual contact lenses while he eye is healing. You ophthalmologist will tell you when you may resume contact lenses.


Corneal erosion is caused by a loose attachment of the surface layer of the cornea to the underlying tissue. This will usually occur at the site of an earlier abrasion. It may occur after waking up in the morning. Erosion may also occur in those with dry eyes.


The symptoms are similar to that of a corneal abrasion:

  • The feeling of having something in your eye
  • Pain and soreness of the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision

Often, these symptoms are noted upon waking and tend to reoccur.


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

  • Use of a special contact lens to reduce pain and promote healing
  • Gentle removal of the damaged epithelium
  • Removal of a small layer of corneal cells using a laser
  • Performing a procedure called anterior stromal puncture, which involves making tiny holes on the surface of the cornea to promote stronger attachments between the top layer of corneal cells and the layer of the cornea underneath.


For maximum protection, do the following:

  • Use proper eyewear when using power tools, mowing the lawn and performing other yard work. Also use proper eyewear when paying sports.
  • Regularly clip your infant’s or young child’s fingernails.
  • Follow your doctor’s instruction on how to care for and wear your contact lenses.

Lubricating the eye at bedtime can often prevent recurrent corneal erosions.

Lauderdale Eye Specialists provides this on-line information for educational purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Lauderdale Eye Specialists disclaims any & all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.

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OjosSanos Información de Salud Ocular de American Academy of Ophthalmology