Corneal Eye Scratch

The cornea replaces itself every five days. Your eye should start to feel better in the next two days. Learn what you can do to help your eye in our video.

Corneal Eye Scratch

Corneal abrasions often feel like there’s a speck of sand in your eye that won’t come out. These injuries can cause severe eye pain, watery eyes, and blurred vision. You may feel intense pain in your eye at bright light. If you have suffered an injury to your eye, visit the closest Urgency Room immediately to be seen by a board-certified emergency physician.

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea, the clear layer of tissue that covers the colored part of your eye. Corneal abrasions are caused by an object scratching your eye and creating a tear in that tissue.

Take a look at some of the most common causes of this injury:

  • Fingernails
  • Animal paws
  • Branches
  • Pieces of paper
  • Tiny pieces of rust
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Contact lenses

Diagnosing a Corneal Abrasion

When you seek urgent care for an eye injury, your healthcare provider will examine your eye for damage. He or she will likely use a machine called a slit lamp to take a closer look at your eye. This diagnostic tool can only found in an emergency room or optometrist’s office.

First, your doctor may use a dropper to administer a dye to your eye. This will highlight the extent of the damage to your cornea when viewed with the slit lamp. After your healthcare provider evaluates the injury, you’ll be given a treatment plan to follow, which typically involves at-home care instructions.

Treatment for Corneal Abrasions

This type of injury is typically treated at home. Eye scratches are quite common and will usually heal on their own, helped along by some at-home care. If your doctor gave you specific care instructions, be sure to follow them.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you recover from your corneal eye scratch:

  • Tylenol and ibuprofen will help with the pain from the abrasion
  • Use antibiotic ointment or eye drops as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Finish any medications with antibiotics in them
  • Avoid wearing contacts until your eye is healed

Will an Eye Patch Help?

Many people think that a patch over the eye will help the cornea heal, but this belief is incorrect. If you patch your eye, you may actually delay the healing process and increase your risk for infection. It’s much better to go without a patch, as the cornea replaces itself every five days.

When to Return to the Doctor

Your symptoms should gradually improve over the next two days. If you don’t see improvement, it’s vital to see an eye doctor right away.

Come back to the Urgency Room if:

  • You can’t get in to see an eye doctor
  • Pain is worse
  • Vision difficulties are increasing
  • You notice yellow drainage from your eye scratches

Corneal abrasions and other injuries that cause eye pain need to be handled with care in order to avoid infections and other complications. If you’re concerned about any new developments in your health, you’ve got a team of health professionals ready to help you—stop by your local Urgency Room to receive emergency care with minimal wait times.


These videos are intended to provide helpful health information to the general public. They are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat health problems, and you should not use these videos in place of a call or visit to a medical professional. Talk with your physician about the proper treatment for your particular condition, and always follow your physician's advice. If you think you need an ambulance or are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 911 immediately.


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