The cornea is the transparent tissue covering the front of the eye. It works with the eye’s lens, which functions like a window controlling the entry of light into the eye. Along with the eyelids, eye socket and the white of the eye (sclera), the cornea protects the eye by shielding it from germs, dust and other harmful substances.
A common injury, a corneal abrasion is a scratch or cut on the outer surface of the cornea caused by a foreign object, such as sand or dust in the eye, improper contact lens use or eye trauma. Symptoms include a feeling that you have something in your eye, tearing, blurred vision and eye pain, especially when opening or closing your eye.
Ophthalmologists diagnose corneal abrasions by introducing drops of a dye called fluorescein stain into the eye. Although abrasions may be viewed with ophthalmoscopes, slit lamp microscopes provide higher magnification for a more thorough evaluation. The dye fluoresces and reveals the injury when a cobalt blue light is shined on the eye.
Antibiotic drops or ointment protect against infections while the abrasion heals over time. Depending on the size of the abrasion, your ophthalmologist may place a patch over the eyelid for 24 hours to decrease pain and speed healing.
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