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Corneal Abrasions

Created on: Thursday, May 23, 2013

Author: Khoa D. Hoang, M.D., See Clearly Vision

The cornea is the clear structure in the front of the eye. It is very sensitive to light and touch due to the large number of nerves innervating the structure. The cornea has five anatomic layers, with the outermost layer being the epithelium. Breakdown of the epithelial layer of the cornea will leave the nerve-endings exposed; this is called an abrasion. Ultimately, this will cause the patient excruciating pain. Other symptoms will include a red eye, decreased vision, and light sensitivity. 

One way corneal abrasions can happen is when the cornea is scratched. A scratched cornea can be caused by a traumatic event, surgically induced, or inherent weakness of the cornea. We’ve seen many patients coming into our clinics because they were inadvertently scratched in their eye while playing with small children. We’ve also seen patients coming out of general surgery with excruciating pain in their eye from a scratched cornea. Lastly, we have patients that don’t know how they scratched their cornea; they simply woke up from a long night of sleep and their eye was hurting. Regardless of how the cornea is scratched, the main thing is to prevent the eye from becoming infected and decreasing patient discomfort. A corneal infection could lead to the development of serious vision loss, so it is in the patient’s best interest to be evaluated and treated by an eye care professional as soon as possible. 


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