Corneal Abrasion/Ulcer

Corneal abrasions refer to injuries to the eye that cause a scratch on the cornea, a thin, transparent membrane that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber of the eye. The cornea acts as a protective layer and makes up two-thirds of the refractive surface of the eye. Corneal abrasions are some of the most common injuries to the eye.

Frequent causes include:

  • Fingernails
  • Paper 
  • Makeup brushes
  • Workplace debris
  • Dry eyes 
  • Damaged contact lenses or prolonged use

While corneal abrasions only disrupt the epithelial layer of the cornea, lesions that involve the underlying Bowmen’s membrane are referred to as corneal ulcers or keratitis. Corneal ulcers may also be the consequence of an abrasion that gets infected.

Small corneal ulcers typically heal spontaneously in two to three days, but larger and deeper abrasions and ulcers need treatment to prevent permanent damage to vision.

Symptoms of Corneal Abrasions

  • Pain
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Blurry vision

Source: Wipperman, J. L., & Dorsch, J. N. (2013). Evaluation and Management of Corneal Abrasions. Am Fam Physician, 87(2), 114–120.