What Exactly Is a Corneal Abrasion?
It is defined as a cut or scrape on the cornea’s outermost surface. The cornea is located on the front of the eye—the clear part—and actually has multiple layers. The most superficial layer is known as the epithelium. The cornea covers up the iris (the colored portion of the eye) as well as the pupil.
Why Is a Corneal Abrasion Painful?
The cornea is actually incredibly sensitive. This is because of the presence of several nerve terminations that are responsible for the transmission of the sensation of pain to the brain so that we are able to recognize that there is something foreign present in the eye before it has a chance to cause damage. As a result, a corneal abrasion is incredibly painful.
How Is a Corneal Abrasion Treated?
As a general rule, a corneal abrasion is superficial, and it can heal on its own without the need for treatment. However, for a more serious and larger corneal abrasion, it can be treated with antibiotic ointment or drops, which can help to protect the eye from infection while brand-new cells grow to replace the damaged ones. In some cases, depending on the exact size of the corneal abrasion, individuals may need to wear an eye patch, which will help to minimize pain and speed up the healing process. However, an eye should never remain patched for more than 24 hours continuously. The patch needs to be removed on a daily basis so that antibiotic ointment or drops can be placed in the eye again.
How Quickly Does a Corneal Abrasion Heal?
For a corneal abrasion to heal a brand-new superficial layer, the epithelium needs to grow and cover up the defect. In other words, it will solely depend on the size of the actual abrasion as well as the overall health of the cornea. On average, though, for a healthy cornea, an abrasion should heal within one to five days.
How Can Dye Be Used to Help Detect a Corneal Abrasion?
Fluorescein, which is a yellow dye, can be placed onto the eye’s surface. This dye will fill the corneal defect and then fluoresce (light up green) in a cobalt blue light, showing where the defect is.
What Is a Corneal Erosion?
The brand-new epithelium that grows after the corneal abrasion heals may not be tightly attached to the layers beneath and sloughs off in the area where the corneal abrasion was after the defect has thoroughly healed. A corneal erosion can occur when there is little to no trauma to the eye. In some cases, it can occur after an individual wakes up. An erosion can sometimes be just as painful as the initial abrasion. If you experience pain following the healing of an abrasion, contact your eye doctor immediately.
For more information about corneal abrasions or erosions, get in touch with us at Performance Vision.