Oral & Vision Health Blog

Scratched Cornea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

If you have ever scratched your cornea before, you will probably never forget how it felt. Painful. Scratched cornea, also known as cornea abrasion, is typical, and there are ways to alleviate symptoms before seeing an optometrist for treatment. 


So, what are the ways that people can scratch their cornea? And what should they do about it? We will look at the causes and symptoms and treatment options that you can use.

Close up of female eyes looking up - isolated over a white background

Scratched cornea causes

  • Being poked in the eye by, for example, a fingernail or another sharp object.
  • Pieces of dirt, sand, or sawdust get caught under your eyelid.
  • Contact lenses that do not fit are ripped or have dirt/dust on them.
  • Aggressively rubbing your eye when something is in it.
  • Certain kinds of eye infections.

When something gets in your eye, you naturally rub it. However, you should avoid doing that. Rubbing it can cause a scratch. Instead, you can blink, gently pull your upper lid over your lower one, or rinse your eye with tap water or saline solution.

After doing those things, if your discomfort continues, you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Woman opening the green eye with her hand in the white background

Scratched cornea symptoms 

A scratched cornea causes pain that does not go away. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain when opening and closing your eyes.
  • Feeling as if sand or dirt is in your eye.
  • Redness and tearing
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

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Scratched cornea treatment 

Here are a few ways to alleviate pain or eye redness:

  • Carefully inspect the eye for small particles that may be stuck under the eyelid and cause symptoms.
  • Flush the eye with clean water or saline solution once or twice to remove particles or soothe the eye surface. Do not rinse the eye more than a few times. Doing so can make the situation worse.
  • Avoid rubbing or pressing on the eye.
  • Use a cool, wet cloth to alleviate swelling and pain. 
  • If outside, wear sunglasses to avoid irritation from the sun.

Closeup of human eye, macro mode-1

Pink Eye vs. Scratched Cornea 
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, affects the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergens. It is usually characterized by redness, itching, swelling, and discharge from the eye. Pink eye is contagious and can be easily spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected person's eye secretions.

On the other hand, a scratched cornea may include pain, redness, tearing, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and the feeling of something in your eye. A scratched cornea can usually heal on its own within a few days. However, it is essential to seek medical attention if the symptoms persist or worsen.


If you experience intense pain or blurred vision, you must seek medical attention immediately, mainly if you believe the particle may be wood, glass, or metal. An eye doctor will carefully examine your eye and may prescribe pain medication or antibiotic eye drops to guard against infection.

If your eye hurts, the doctor may suggest over-the-counter pain medication. If it is an extensive abrasion, you may need to keep the eye covered with gauze or an eye patch for a few days. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice, and if you continue to feel pain, contact them immediately. 

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