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How to Care for a Corneal Abrasion

The cornea is a crucial component of ensuring we have clear vision, but it is also particularly vulnerable to cuts and scratches. If a corneal abrasion occurs, you should take quick measures to treat the condition for a speedy recovery.

The thin, transparent cover of the eye, known as the cornea, focuses incoming light so we can see. The cornea is made up of five parts: the epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, the corneal stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and the endothelium. 

The superficial top layer, or the epithelium, is comprised of sensitive cells similar to skin cells. Below that band is the tougher Bowman’s membrane. Added together, these two layers account for only 10 percent of the cornea’s thickness.

Despite their thin nature, these two layers are important in ensuring the proper functions of the eye. They are also the most vulnerable to serious injury from scratches and cuts that we refer to as corneal abrasions. A minor corneal abrasion can interfere with your vision, but also may lead to a more serious infection if left untreated. 

Corneal abrasions are the result of a foreign object scaping the surface of the cornea. Dust, sand, or even an accidental scratch from a fingernail may cause an abrasion. People with dry eye syndrome are slightly more prone to corneal abrasions, as the lack of moisture in their eyes may cause their eyelids to tear the epithelium. 

If you are experiencing a sensation similar to having a gritty object in your eye, you may have a corneal abrasion. Scratches to the cornea can be tremendously painful because the cornea is made up of so many nerve cells. Other signs that your cornea may have been lacerated include excessive tearing, redness, headaches, and sensitivity to light. With prompt treatment, however, you can quickly reverse these symptoms and stop your corneal abrasion from resulting in any long-term vision problems.

Treating Corneal Abrasions

If you think you have scratched your cornea, contact your eye care specialist immediately. Before you visit the doctor, you can try to flush out the object by pouring a saline solution over the eye. Other methods of potential relief involve blinking several times or pulling your upper eyelid over the lower eyelid, actions which both encourage tear production to wash away foreign particles.

Avoid rubbing your eyes or attempting to remove the object with tweezers or cotton swabs. Contact lenses don’t protect against corneal abrasions, so you should remove contacts if you are experiencing a corneal abrasion.

To diagnose a corneal abrasion, your eye care specialist will numb your eye in preparation for an eye exam. The doctor will then view the cornea under a special microscope known as a slit lamp to check for any surface-level scrapes.

Treatment for an abrasion tends to center around measures that will allow your eye to best go through its natural healing processes. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to prevent infection, as well as moisturizing eye drops to soothe the cornea. In special cases, a bandage contact lens may be placed over the cornea to further promote healing and reduce pain.

Once you’ve been diagnosed and prescribed treatment, schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor to check on your progress. Minor corneal abrasions can improve within a day or two, but deeper cuts in the middle of the cornea take longer to heal and may result in a permanent scar. 

Preventing Corneal Abrasions

Because of the pain and potential risks to vision, it’s best to take measures to prevent corneal abrasions altogether. There are several precautions you can take to prevent scratches and shield your cornea from damage.

Wear Protective Goggles. If you play sports, do yard work, or work at a job that requires you to use heavy machinery, wear protective goggles. This eyewear prevents abrasions by serving as a physical shield for objects that may fly toward your eyes. For optimal safety, make sure they are properly fitted around your eyes.

Care for Your Contacts. If you wear contacts, regularly clean them with a contact lens solution to maintain healthy corneas. Be sure to discard any old contact lenses to prevent wear and tear that may result in an eventual abrasion.

Treat Your Dry Eyes. Since dry eye syndrome increases your risk of corneal abrasions, managing and treating the condition will help prevent damage to the cornea. Your doctor can recommend therapies for dry eye as necessary.

Caring for Your Cornea

Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas provide a full menu of eye-care services. We’ll examine your cornea and we diagnose an abrasion, we can prescribe treatments to ensure a rapid recovery. We also offer cataract surgery and LASIK vision correction surgery. Call today for a consultation.

How Quick Is LASIK Recovery?

LASIK surgery is a safe, fast, and effective way for patients to achieve long-lasting improvements to their vision.

LASIK vision correction surgery is remarkable, not only for its permanent correction of refractive errors, but for its fast recovery time. Most patients who undergo LASIK surgery experience clearer vision in a matter of days, and are surprised by how quickly they are able to return to many of their routine activities.

While a patient’s eyesight improves rapidly immediately after LASIK surgery, blurriness and fluctuations in vision may occur throughout the recovery process, which usually takes three to six months. Here’s the recovery timeline you can expect to follow when healing from LASIK.

The Stages of LASIK Recovery

Life returns to normal almost immediately following LASIK. That said, doctors recommend that you rest your eyes for a few hours post-operation, as you’re likely to experience burning, itchiness, sensitivity to light, halos around objects, glare, or blurred vision. To counteract these common side-effects, your doctor will send you home with eye drops that lubricate and heal the eyes. You will receive instructions for when, how, and for how long (usually around a week) to use these medicated drops.

You should avoid strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after undergoing LASIK, but most people will be cleared to drive and return to work after checking in with their eyecare specialist the day after surgery.

In the weeks following your procedure, you will continue to keep tabs on your eyes’ healing and monitor your visual acuity while routinely visiting your doctor. Follow-up visits will take place regularly until 12 months after your LASIK surgery, but these will be included in the cost of your procedure.

Because the corneal flap created by the LASIK procedure requires a period of several months to heal, you may experience slightly blurred vision or other variations in your eyesight after the procedure. If these symptoms become severe or do not seem to improve with time, notify your doctor.

Although complications are rare, some people who undergo LASIK surgery require an enhancement procedure to sharpen their eyesight if their vision does not stabilize after six months.

Eyecare after LASIK

In addition to incorporating general eyecare best practices into your routine, you should take special precautions after LASIK surgery. Your eyes are more vulnerable to traumatic injuries after undergoing LASIK than they were before the operation, so shielding them from damaging contact is — and will remain — important for eye health and safety.

There are a number of precautionary steps you can take to protect your eyes after LASIK surgery:

  • Sleep with protective eyewear for the first few nights following the procedure to shield your eyes from irritants.
  • Do not irritate your eyes with your hands during the week after surgery. While you may feel some discomfort and have a reflexive urge to rub or itch, avoid touching your eyes altogether, as doing so can damage the corneal flap as it’s repairing itself.
  • To prevent infection, do not apply eye cream or eye makeup for the first week following the procedure. Similarly, do not submerge your eye in potentially contaminated water (like swimming pools), and avoid irritating chemicals (like those in some shampoos and body washes).
  • Do not exercise for the first week following the procedure, and avoid contact sports for the first few weeks following the operation.
  • Continue to wear sports goggles when engaging in athletic activity, and always use protective eyewear when working with power tools.

If you’re interested in learning more about LASIK vision correction surgery, schedule a consultation with the eyecare experts at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. You can also learn more about patients’ recovery experiences by watching testimonials here.

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