Did you know?

Corneal abrasions can interrupt your vision and make your eye more susceptible to infection, they can also be quite painful. It’s important you get a scratched eye checked by your optometrist, or even your local eye casualty department, if you are in significant pain.

Signs of corneal abrasión

Signs and symptoms of a scratched eye include:

  • Feeling like you have sand or grit in your eye
  • Painful eyes, especially when opening or closing
  • Teary or watering eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

If you experience any of these symptoms or changes to vision, it’s important to get your eyes checked quickly.

Causes of scratched eye

There are many ways to get a corneal abrasion. No matter the size, anything that contacts the surface of the eye can cause injury. Common causes include airborne particles such as dust or sand, and any object which hits the open eye, for example during children’s playtime or DIY activities.

Dry eyes can increase your risk of corneal abrasion through insufficient lubrication of the eye. Dry areas cause the corneal surface to become fragile and therefore much more likely to become damaged, even during something as simple as rubbing your eye.

Corneal abrasion treatment

The majority of corneal abrasions slowly self-heal over several days. However, because the surface damage makes the eye more susceptible to infection, scratched eye treatment can require antibiotic eye drops or ointment.


Can you prevent corneal abrasion?

Yes, to some extent. If you feel like there is something in your eye, avoid rubbing it to stop further damage. Always wear eye protection when there is a risk of eye damage – for example working in a dusty environment or amongst thick vegetation and when doing DIY.

If you do feel something in the eye, blink a few times to see if this dislodges it and, if not, gently rinse your eye out with clean water or a sterile saline solution. If the pain or discomfort persists, seek medical attention.

How serious is corneal abrasion?

The severity of a corneal abrasion is determined by the size and position of the abrasion and how deeply it damages the cornea. Eye pain doesn’t always represent the amount of damage, so it is always best to get the eye checked by an eye professional. While the majority of scratches will self-heal, they do have the potential to get infected or form a scar which can cause permanent damage to the eye and affect your vision.

What are the symptoms of a scratched eye?

The cornea, the area of the eyeball that has been scratched, is very sensitive so corneal abrasions can be very painful. You will feel as though there is something stuck in your eye, and may experience redness, watering eyes and light sensitivity.

What to do if your baby or child scratches their eye?

As with any eye or vision problem, it is almost impossible to judge the seriousness of the abrasion yourself, so the best thing to do is get their eyes checked by your optometrist. The optometrist may suggest monitoring, treatment or referral to eye specialists if the damage is more serious but typically most abrasions will self-heal.