Corneal Abrasion

The cornea is the clear front window of the eye. It covers the colored portion of the eye much like a watch. The outermost layer of the cornea is called the corneal epithelium.

A corneal erosion or abrasion refers to a scratch or injury of the corneal epithelium. These painful abrasions occur quite commonly from vigorous rubbing of the eye after something has gotten in it, a baby’s fingernail, tree limbs, bushes, or, in some cases, improper removal of a contact lens or wearing of a torn contact lens. Corneal disease can also be a contributing factor.NOTE: this is an eye emergency! please contact your nearest SD Eyecare clinc immediately!


The most common treatment is to patch the eye tightly. This allows the damaged epithelium to heal. Patching also reduces the pain by preventing the blinking eyelid from irritating the affected area. Since both eyes move together and the eye is most painful when it moves, it is often helpful to rest the other eye as well.

An antibiotic may be prescribed to prevent infection. Anesthetic drops can relieve pain and facilitate examination but may keep the eye from healing properly if used repeatedly.

Occasionally, long after an abrasion has healed; it recurs spontaneously, often upon awakening in the morning. Recurrent corneal erosions often require repeat patching or the use of ointments at bedtime. Sometimes a soft or bandage-type contact lens is used to facilitate healing.


If bacteria get into the tissues under the protective corneal epithelium, infection, or corneal ulcer, can occur. These complications can be very serious and cause loss of vision.

In the majority of cases, corneal erosions will heal completely. But proper care and monitoring by you and your eye care professional are necessary to help prevent serious consequences.