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What Does a Scratched Eye Feel Like?

Eye Care & Eye Exams in Portland, Oregon

Eye Care & Eye Exams in Portland, Oregon

A scratch on the cornea (or corneal abrasion) is one of the most common eye injuries. It can happen without anyone noticing because it doesn’t take a major accident to scrape or scratch the cornea.

If you suspect your child may have scratched his or her eye, seek the help of an eye care professional near you immediately. A corneal abrasion can quickly get worse and lead to serious eye infections unless it receives professional treatment. An experienced and qualified optometrist such as Dr. Tsai in Portland, Oregon can offer effective treatment.

Symptoms of a Scratched Eye

Is your child rubbing its eye and complaining that there’s something in it? Make sure he/she stops rubbing and washes out the eye with clean water. If the feeling prevails, there’s a good chance he or she may have scratched the eyeball.

Check for additional symptoms:

  • Tearing
  • High sensitivity to light
  • A red spot or red line in the white part of the eye
  • General redness of the eye
  • Blurry or decreased vision
  • Headaches
  • Sometimes even nausea

These are signs of a possible corneal abrasion, a scratch on the outer protective layer of the cornea (the round dome covering the front of the eyeball). This layer is called the corneal epithelium.

What Can Cause a Scratch on the Cornea?

This is the tricky part. Almost anything can scratch an eyeball, from a fingernail to a piece of paper, from a branch to sand or dust. In many cases, the child will not feel anything when it happens, but develop symptoms a few hours later.

When a child plays outside, it may fall and get some dirt on his face and a tiny sharp rock or wooden splinter into the eye. This is enough to scratch the sensitive cover on the eyeball.

A sudden blow of strong wind can carry sand and dust particles, which sometimes are sharp enough to cause a scratch on the cornea. Such dirt and sand particles may also hide in a pile of snow your child is using to build a snowman.

If your child is playing with others or with a pet, a fingernail can accidentally get into the eye, even for a brief moment without causing any pain.

How to Treat a Scratched Cornea

There is nothing you can do to treat a scratched eye by yourself. An eye care professional needs to diagnose the severity of the damage and prescribe treatment.

Make sure you or your child do

  • NOT rub the eye
  • NOT use eye drops to relieve redness
  • NOT patch or bandage the eye

To minimize discomfort and risk do

  • Rinse the eye with a sterile saline solution or multipurpose contact lens solution
  • Encourage the child to blink frequently to ensure sufficient moisture
  • Let the child wear sunglasses

What Will the Optometrist Do?

The eye doctor will examine the eye to determine the severity of the injury and assess treatment. Lubricating drops may be used to support the eye’s natural healing process. In many cases, the doctor will prescribe antibiotic drops as a preventive measure against infections.

A scratched cornea will heal within a few days. Typically, it takes less time to heal than a cut to the skin would. If you are not sure about whether your child has injured its cornea, consult Dr. Tsai at Portland, Oregon now.

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