A recent survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology stated that most Americans don’t see an eye doctor, even when they have an eye problem. If you have a serious corneal abrasion, you cannot ignore it.
While a corneal abrasion, or a scratched eye, can heal at home, it is important to visit a doctor if the symptoms do not clear up on their own.
In this article, we’ll discuss how quickly you can expect to heal from a scratched eye, and when you should make an appointment with an eye doctor.
Read on for more information.
What is a Cornea?
Before we dive in and discuss corneal abrasions, let’s discuss exactly what a cornea is.
A cornea is almost like your eye’s window. It is thin and transparent and covers your eye’s pupil, and the iris (the colored portion of your eye). The cornea is what helps you maintain your eyesight, which is why an injury to it is important to pay attention to.
The primary job of the cornea is to bend light as it enters your eye so that you can see objects in front of you. If your cornea becomes misshapen, as happens to many people over time as they age, it can affect your eyesight. If you choose to have LASIK surgery to help improve your vision, the surgeon will reshape your cornea to allow you to see better.
What is the Cornea Comprised Of?
The cornea is comprised of cells and proteins. Unlike most other parts of the human body, it does not contain blood vessels, as this would cloud your vision. The epithelium is the first layer of cells in the five layers of the cornea, and this layer also acts as a barrier for the rest of the eye.
This layer also contains lots of nerve endings, which is why you’ll feel a corneal abrasion, even if it is minor. This is to ensure that you pay attention to even small abrasions, and ensure that your eyesight is not affected by them.
If you have a corneal abrasion or a scratched eye, it is most likely this part of the cornea that has been damaged.
What are the Symptoms of a Scratched Eye?
As we mentioned above, your cornea contains many nerve endings. As such, if you do have an abrasion, it can feel much more dramatic than it is. If you’ve never had one before, it can even be painful.
Symptoms of a scratched eye, or corneal abrasion, are fairly straightforward. Most people will feel an amount of pain in their eye, typically at the front of the eye. Their eye may turn red and it may start to water. You may also blink over and over reflexively in order to try to get whatever is in your eye out of it.
While the pain may feel dramatic, you may not actually see anything in your eye when you look at it in the mirror. It may take a professional to locate the abrasion or to locate the item that made its way into your eye.
How Do Corneal Abrasions Occur?
Most often, a corneal abrasion occurs from having a piece of matter fly into your eye. This can be dust, sand, dirt or even material from a project you’re working on. If you have fake eyelashes and one gets in your eye, this can also cause a scratched eye.
In order to avoid corneal abrasions, it is important to protect your eyes during heavy wind and when performing tasks where items could fly into your eyes. This includes yard work, artwork and any task where there is a risk for an item flying into your eye.
What Do I Do If I Have a Corneal Abrasion?
If you have a corneal abrasion, call your eye doctor immediately. Although it may be difficult to refrain from doing so, do not rub your eye. This can cause further damage and create an even bigger tear by moving whatever was in your eye further around it. Instead, wait until your eye doctor has seen the abrasion before doing any kind of self-medication.
Your eye doctor will be able to put special eye drops in your eye that helps them see if there is a corneal abrasion or imperfection on your cornea.
A doctor may also be able to remove a foreign object that you were unable to remove using specialist instruments.
Your doctor will also look into your eye to determine if there is an infection. If there is, you will be given antibiotic eye drops to help your eye heal. For a severe abrasion, you may need to wear an eye patch. You must use the eye drops as directed by your doctor.
How Long Will It Take a Scratched Eye to Heal?
If the scratch is minor, it will take heal in a day or two. During this time, you may experience a headache and light sensitivity.
A severe or sight altering abrasion, or one that is infected, will take longer to heal. Follow your eye doctor’s instructions to the letter to ensure your eye returns back to normal following the injury.
In Lexington and Need to See an Eye Doctor for a Corneal Abrasion?
If you have a scratched eye and live in the greater Lexington, KY area, contact us today. We can help diagnose your corneal abrasion and put you on the road to healing.