What is corneal abrasion?

A corneal abrasion (a scratched cornea) is one of the most common eye injuries. So what are the causes, symptoms and treatment of corneal abrasion?


Many people assume corneal abrasions are only caused by a noticeable injury like getting poked in the eye by a sharp object, such as a pencil. However, sand, dust and other small particles can also cause a corneal abrasion, especially if you rub your eyes.

Other causes include:

  • Chemicals entering your eye
  • Wearing poor-fitting or dirty contact lenses
  • Certain types of eye infection
  • Undergoing surgery without proper eye protection
  • Discomfort that may entail feeling like you have sand or grit in your eye
  • Red eyes
  • Tearing
  • Hypersensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling pain when you open or close your eye

If you feel like there’s something in your eye, you’re going to want to rub it. Don’t. It is through the rubbing that you get a scratch. Do this instead:

  • Blink several times
  • Pull your upper eyelid over the lower eyelid
  • Gently rinse your eye with clean water

Remember, you should not try to remove anything that is stuck on your cornea. In case of such an occurrence, visit an eye doctor immediately.


The treatment for a corneal abrasion depends on the severity of the wound and the cause. It may entail your doctor prescribing antibiotic eye drops or ointment to keep your eye from getting infected. The doctor may also patch your affected eye to keep light from bothering it.

A minor scratch should heal on its own in 1–3 days. More severe abrasions may take longer.

While your eye heals:

  • Do not rub it
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your eye doctor says it is safe to do so
  • Wear sunglasses to ease discomfort caused by sunlight.

Do you have any further queries on corneal abrasion or any other eye condition or ailment? Please place your query on the comment section below or contact us via: info@cityeyehospital.or.ke.

If you need medical attention, contact us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya.

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