The abrasion occurs when the outer layer and transparent eye suffers an injury that is usually caused by small scratches or lacerations. These injuries are very annoying and when they heal they can leave a scar on the cornea – affecting the vision – which in many cases requires surgery to correct it.
The eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of the human body due to the important function they perform, the vision. That is why they are well protected by the eyelids and eyelashes, in addition to the involuntary reflex that makes us close our eyes quickly to avoid damage, or tearing, which drags and removes particles from the ocular surface.
But despite all these protection mechanisms, injuries are sometimes inevitable. These usually occur in the outer layer of the eye called the cornea, a transparent sheet that covers the eye and, together with the lens, allows us to focus properly.
The corneal abrasion is a common problem that occurs mostly in children, although outdoor sports such as cycling also increase the risk of foreign elements entering the eye and causing damage.
Causes of Corneal Abrasion:
There are multiple causes of corneal abrasion or corneal injury, but the most frequent are:
Direct Injuries: Naturally, any blow could cause an injury.
Foreign bodies: foreign bodies are called any external element such as dust spots, eyelashes, sand, or small chips, which can get into the eye and lacerate the cornea. These scratches are also dangerous because of the potential risk of infection.
Contact lenses: the fact of putting and removing contact lenses constantly causes injuries to occur frequently.
Handling: sometimes we rub our eyes too hard and the cornea is damaged. It is very common in very young children who do not control strength yet.
Normally we realize when we put something in the eye, and it is obvious to think that if after a few hours is still irritated is because there has been an injury. However, this is not always the case, and we must know the signs to identify a corneal abrasion, especially in children.
Pain, stinging and eye irritation with redness.
A sensation of having something stuck in the eye.
Lachrymation; the eye produces tears in an attempt to cleanse itself and eliminate what is causing the damage.
In children, excessive blinking can be seen in the affected eye, and sometimes they keep the eyelid closed.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for corneal abrasion include:
Have a dry or weak cornea;
Wear contact lenses;
Work in a risk area for the eyes, such as working with metals or gardening;
Participate in sports where they can cause eye injuries by accident.
If you have any signs of abrasion of the cornea, you should seek medical attention from your ophthalmologist (Eye Doctor). He or she will do a complete ophthalmologic exam. During the exam, your ophthalmologist may place anesthetic drops in your eye so that the eye can remain open during the exam.
To accurately diagnose a corneal abrasion, your ophthalmologist can perform an eye stain with fluorescein. This is a test that uses an orange-colored ink (fluorescein) and a blue light to detect damage to the cornea.
Usually, minor damage heals within 1-2 days. You can put a patch for comfort. In some cases, your eye doctor will place a contact lens in your eye to help decrease discomfort and improve healing. The doctor is likely to ask you to return in a short time to confirm that the injury is healing.
Generally, the treatment for Corneal Abrasion may include:
Removal of the Foreign Object:
The doctor will remove the foreign object by washing the eye with a saline solution or using a cotton swab, needle or other tools. Maybe your doctor will prescribe to use a patch on your eye.
However, a meta-analysis (analysis of a group of studies on the same topic) conducted in 2006 showed that the use of a patch in the eye does not diminish the pain and may even delay the healing process.
However, most eye care specialists believe that, when used correctly, a patch that puts pressure on the eye and prevents blinking provides greater comfort and speeds up the healing process.
Medications may include:
Antibiotic drops or ointments to prevent infection;
Medicine needed for pain.
Visit the eye doctor immediately whenever you feel a discomfort in the eye. In addition to the treatment prescribed by your doctor, personal care may include:
Do not rub your eye. Rubbing the eye could make the abrasion worse;
If you are not using a patch, wet compresses can help relieve pain;
Do not wear your contact lenses until your doctor approves it;
If you are diagnosed with a corneal abrasion, follow your doctor’s instructions.
What to do and what not to do in case of Corneal Abrasion?
In the vast majority of cases, a corneal abrasion is due to minor injuries that heal spontaneously after two days; the Lachrymation helps to drag all the strange particles like sand, eyelashes, insects, etc. The first aid is to detect the severity of the injury and act accordingly, and prevent complications:
It is very important not to rub your eyes if you suspect an injury.
In case there is a foreign body you should let the tears flow. If desired, saline can be used to help wash while trying to remove with sterile cotton or gauze.
If the harmful element is stuck in the eye you should never try to remove it at home, it will always be necessary to go to a health center. In this case, it is especially important not to rub your eyes. If the affected person is a child, he must remain in constant surveillance.
An eye patch can be used as a protective barrier while the eye is healing.
Do not wear contact lenses until they have completely healed to prevent infections and complications.
There are eye ointments and drops, which besides being antibiotic to protect against infections favor healing.
In case the pain is very strong you can take over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen, always following the instructions.
If at any time there are doubts about the severity of the injury, it is necessary to go to a medical center to confirm the diagnosis. The same happens if you still feel discomfort after two days because it could be indicative of some complication.
As always, the best treatment is prevention, and in this case, protecting our eyes means looking after our eyes. Always wear protective goggles in jobs where there is a risk of damaging them, just like when playing sports. First aid on time could save the sight.
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Hi, This is A. R. Choudhury, a Professional Blogger & part time Freelancer from India. Here at FabHealthFitness, I write about Health, Fitness, Diet, Supplements, Nutrition and more. You can read more about me at About me page.