Corneal injury describes an injury to the cornea. The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue covering the front of the eye. It works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina.
Injuries to the cornea are common.
Injuries to the outer surface of the cornea, called corneal abrasions, may be caused by:
Infections may also damage the cornea.
You are more likely to develop a corneal injury if you:
High-speed particles, such as chips from hammering metal on metal, may become embedded in the surface of the cornea. Rarely, they may pass through the cornea and go deeper into the eye.
A complete eye exam must be done. The health care provider may use a special drop called fluorescein dye that helps identify corneal injuries.
Tests that are used to examine the eye for damage to the cornea include:
First aid for eye emergencies:
Anyone with severe eye pain needs to be evaluated in an emergency care center or by an ophthalmologist immediately.
Treatment for corneal injuries may involve:
Injuries that affect only the surface of the cornea normally heal very quickly with treatment. The eye should be back to normal within 2 days.
Injuries that penetrate the cornea are much more serious. The outcome depends on the specific injury.
Call your health care provider if the injury has not significantly improved in 2 days with treatment.
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Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Opthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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