Corneal Abrasion

Corneal Abrasion is a common problem affecting the eyes of many individuals around the planet. Read on to know what is Corneal Abrasion as also as its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Corneal Abrasion Definition

It is a medical condition involving a scratch, puncture or scrape on the cornea or the clear tissue of the eye. The cornea appears as a transparent region of the eye and acts as a cover for the iris and the pupil.

An abrasion on the cornea leads to the loss of the surface of the corneal epithelial layer.

Corneal Abrasion ICD 9 Code

The ICD 9 code for Corneal Abrasion is 918.1.

Corneal Abrasion Causes

Abrasions of the cornea are highly common in nature and may be caused due to any type of eye injury. They are typically a result of trauma to the ocular surface (surface of the eye). A number of factors can act as causes of Corneal Abrasion. Accidental eye trauma is the commonest of these. Abrasions are common when the eye gets hit by a finger, tree branch or a strip of projectile material. An injury can immediately result in an abrasion of the cornea.

Some of the other common Corneal Abrasion causes are:

Entry of a foreign body

Accidental entry of particles of sand, dust, wood shavings or any other fine material can irritate the eye and give rise to an abrasion. Entry of plant matter, such as pine needle, can also lead to this problem.

Chemical irritation

Accidental exposure of the eye to any strong chemical can also cause irritation of the corneal surface. Any fluid that has a propensity of causing discomfort and soreness in the eyes can be a potential causative factor for this condition.

Contact lenses

Certain solutions and materials used in some contact lenses can make the eyes of certain individuals extremely sensitive and cause irritation. Bodily reactions to such cosmetic products can also lead to abrasions of the cornea. Ill-fitting lenses can result in rapid ocular irritation and cause an abrasion. Corneal damages are often found to occur when lenses are removed from the eyes in a harsh manner.

Dryness of the cornea

The condition may also occur if the cornea turns dry due to age or certain abnormal ocular conditions. Dryness of the cornea can make it brittle and extremely susceptible to damage due to minor pressure on its surface.


Ocular infections may also cause damage to the cornea and give rise to abrasions.

Light exposure

Prolonged exposure to extremely bright light, such as artificial ultraviolet rays or even sunlight, can also cause corneal injury and abrasion.

Corneal Abrasion Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Corneal Abrasion are:

  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Reduced vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain and burning or stinging sensations in one or both eyes
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Tear discharge from eyes (Watery eyes)
  • Swollen eyelids

Most affected individuals also suffer from an acute discomforting sensation of having some foreign object in their eyes. This is commonly known as “Foreign-body sensation”. Some individuals also suffer from headaches.

Corneal Abrasion Diagnosis

The diagnosis of this condition usually involves a complete examination of the eye. Two of the common medical tests conducted for evaluating this condition are

Standard Ophthalmic examination

It involves detection of a possible corneal abrasion with an ophthalmoscope, an instrument used to examine the retina of the eye.

Slit-lamp examination of the eye

It involves examination of the cornea with a Slit-lamp microscope. Unlike an ophthalmoscope, this apparatus provides higher magnification of the eyes. This makes the ocular evaluation more accurate.

Healthcare providers often use Fluorescein stain during a Corneal Abrasion test. This is a special solution placed on the eye surface to cover the corneal defect and illuminate the region with a cobalt-blue light. The corneal region is carefully searched to locate any foreign body, particularly under the eyelids.

Corneal Abrasion Treatment

Any person with acute eye pain or severe Corneal Abrasion requires immediate visit to an ophthalmologist or evaluation in an emergency care center. Small abrasions may not need any specific treatment. Larger abrasions are typically cured with the aid of a topical antibiotic course for a few days to prevent infection. Sometimes, a topical Cycloplegic is used to relieve pain and provide comfort.

The treatment for Corneal Abrasion may also involve

  • Removal of any foreign object from one or both eyes
  • Use of prescribed ointments or eye drops for Corneal Abrasion
  • Intake of analgesics (pain-relieving drugs)
  • Use of temporary bandage contacts or eye patches
  • Non-use of contact lenses until full recuperation of the affected eye(s)

Bandage contact lenses supply the cornea with more oxygen. They can be tightly fitted and provide minimal room for movement, thus lowering the risk of corneal edema and hypoxia. These type of lenses greatly reduce eye pain and let patients administer eye drops.

Recurrent Corneal Abrasion Syndrome

At times, the healed epithelium may attach poorly to the underlying basement membrane. In such cases, it may come off at intervals and give rise to recurrent corneal abrasions. Recurrent corneal abrasions are characterized by sudden relapse of ocular pain, sensitivity to bright lights, foreign body sensation and tear discharge.

A laser operative procedure, known as Phototherapeutic Keratectomy, is often used for recurrent Corneal Abrasion treatment.

Corneal Abrasion Home Treatment

If you are suffering from pain or irritation in the eye, you may use these home remedies before seeking medical treatment.


Rinse your eyes with clear water for 5-10 minutes, keeping the lids open. Washing with clean water can help flush out any foreign object from your eyes and help cure the problem. This may also prevent any further damage to the cornea.

Blink several times

Blink for several times looking steadily in front. This can remove tiny specks of dust or sand that may be lodged under your eyelids and causing the problem.

Move the eyelids

Pull the lashes of your upper eyelid over the lower one. This can help dislodge any foreign particle from under your upper eyelid. If you are experiencing the problem in both eyes, carry out the exercise with both of the upper eyelids.

Corneal Abrasion Complications

Complications rarely arise in case of this condition. Complexities usually arise if foreign bodies such as iron particles enter the eye. If iron particles are involved, rusting may occur. Severe Corneal Abrasion may require a cornea transplant or an extensive Corneal Abrasion surgery.

Corneal Abrasion Healing Time

Minor abrasions, affecting only the outer corneal surface, heal very fast with treatment. In such cases, eyes usually heal within 2 days. Penetrating corneal injuries are more serious and the outcome of their treatment usually depends on the specific injury.

If you are suffering from pain and irritation in one or both eyes and the symptoms refuse to subside even after 2 days, get in touch with a health care provider. Early diagnosis and cure will help you evade all future complications and make a faster recovery.

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