Is there a difference between a scratched eye and a scratched cornea?

Published on
January 9, 2023

Corneal abrasions, or scratched corneas, are a common occurrence and make up a significant portion of eye injury cases. In fact, around 10% of emergency eye care is related to corneal abrasions.

A scratched eye, is another name for a corneal abrasion, it is a common and usually minor injury that occurs when something scratches the clear, protective layer that covers the front of the eye. 

Although a corneal abrasion is generally a minor injury it is important to get it seen right away in order to prevent infection. This is because the cornea is extremely important to our vision, the cornea is a  transparent layer at the front of the eye that helps focus light, and if it is damaged it can cause distorted vision. 

The cornea is one of the most sensitive parts of our body and you can usually tell if you scratched the cornea because of pain. A scratched eye or scratched cornea can cause pain, redness, and sensitivity to light. 

What causes a scratched eye?

A scratched eye can happen from a variety of causes, one of the most common causes is by a foreign object, such as a piece of dirt or a contact lens, getting into the eye and scratching the cornea. It can also be caused by rubbing the eye too hard or by accidentally poking the eye with a finger or other object. While most cases of scratches to the eye heal on their own it is always a good idea to visit our optometrist so that they can examine the scratch under a microscope and if needed provide treatment. 

Treatment may include antibiotics, special eye drops or ointments, specialized bandage contact lenses, and in rare cases, surgery.

Can a scratched eye or scratched cornea heal on its own?

In most cases, a scratched eye will heal on its own within a few days with proper treatment. If the pain is not subsiding, your vision is impacted, or you have symptoms that persist, you should schedule an emergency eye exam at an Amplify EyeCare office or search for "emergency eye exam near me". While most cases do not lead to any long term damage, it is important to make sure that the wound heals properly and does not cause infection or scarring, this is especially true if the scratch is deep. In the case of severe eye pain or vision impairment, visit an eye doctor as soon as possible.

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