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How to treat a corneal abrasion

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the eye and can happen instantly such as poking the eye or when dirt or sand gets trapped under the eyelid. It causes pain and becomes worse when closing the eye or difficulty closing it. Light causes stinging and burning sensations. A minor corneal abrasion usually heals in a few days.

The cornea is the clear and round dome that covers the iris and pupil of the eyes. It is responsible for proper vision and when there is an abrasion on the cornea, the vision is affected.

Causes of corneal abrasion

  • Dirt, sawdust, sand, and ash gets into the eye
  • Chemicals in the eye
  • Rubbing the eye too hard

    Take the prescribed oral pain medication that contains acetaminophen to lessen the pain and for fast healing of the condition.

  • Poking the eye with a fingernail, pen or makeup brush
  • Wearing poor-fitting or dirty contact lenses
  • Sports injuries
  • Eye conditions that includes trachoma which is a bacterial infection
  • Undergoing surgery under general anesthesia


  • A gritty feeling felt in the eye
  • Pain
  • Tearing and redness
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain can be felt especially when opening and closing the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Cannot see anything


  • Rinse the affected eye using clean water or saline solution. Fill a small drinking glass with clean water. Position the rim of the glass to rest on the bone at the bottom of the eye socket. Rinse the eye to wash away foreign objects on the eye. Another alternative is blinking the eye several times to eliminate any tiny particles.
  • Apply the prescribed antibiotic eye drops or ointment for the eyes or use a steroid eye drop to lessen the inflammation and risk of scarring.
  • Pull the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid to produce tears which help in washing out the tiny particle or the lashes of the lower eyelid will brush away the particles from under the upper eyelid.
  • Wear the prescribed eye patch while in the healing process. Another alternative is wearing sunglasses to lessen the symptoms while in the healing process. Another alternative is using the prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops with a combination of soft disposable contact lens. The eye drops lessen the sensitivity of the cornea and the disposable contact lens protects the eye, lessen the pain and promote fast healing of the condition.
  • Take the prescribed oral pain medication that contains acetaminophen to lessen the pain and for fast healing of the condition.


  • Avoid removing the embedded material in the eyeball and avoid rubbing the eyes after the injury.
  • Avoid touching the affected area using tweezers or cotton swabs.
  • Wear safety glasses or protective goggles while working and playing sports to prevent airborne debris especially with welding, performing yard work and using power tools.
  • Wear the prescribed contact lenses and using the proper contact lens care solutions to keep the cornea strong and healthy.
  • Use the prescribed artificial tears to keep the eyes lubricated and flush out foreign objects in the affected eyes.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on corneal abrasion is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage eye injuries by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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