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Corneal abrasion is an injury to the surface of the cornea. The cornea is the part of the eye that helps focus images on the retina.
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Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, using contact lenses that don’t fit correctly, overuse of contact lenses, and allowing sand or dust to enter the eyes causes corneal abrasions. The risk for this type of injury increases if you spend a lot of time in the sun, work in an environment with a lot of dust, or expose your eyes to artificial ultraviolet long.
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Corneal abrasion causes blurred vision, swollen eyelids, eye pain, redness of the eye, and abnormal sensitivity to light. You may also feel like you have something in your eye.
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This condition is diagnosed with a standard eye examination and the use of a slit lamp. An ophthalmologist can also stain the surface of the eye with a fluorescein dye. This allows for the visualization of a corneal injury.
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Corneal Abrasion Treatment
Do not attempt to remove a foreign object from your eye. Only a licensed medical professional should attempt this. If your eye is only irritated slightly, you can wash it out with clean water. Do this by tilting your head and allowing water to enter your eye. If you are at work when the irritation occurs, see if your employer has a chemical eye wash station. Artificial tears help improve irritation and ease discomfort. Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain relievers also reduce discomfort. Rest your eye by avoiding reading and driving.
Your ophthalmologist may prescribe medical treatments for your corneal abrasion. Antibiotic ointment and eyedrops ease inflammation and reduce the risk of corneal scarring. Some eyedrops also prevent muscle spasm, reducing sensitivity to light. If you experience severe pain, your doctor may prescribe pain medication. Your doctor may also ask you to wear sunglasses, which prevents exposure to UV light and helps reduce pain. The National Institutes of Health reports that corneal abrasions usually resolve within two days.
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Prevent injury to the corneas by wearing safety goggles while using tools or chemicals. Protect your corneas by wearing sunglasses that reduce exposure to ultraviolet light. If you participate in high-impact sports, wear sports goggles to avoid direct injury to the eye.
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National Institutes of Health: Corneal Injury. Accessed December 30, 2009.
WebMD: Corneal Abrasion. Accessed December 30, 2009.