Corneal injury is a wound to the part of the eye known as the cornea. The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue that covers 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 may be due to:
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 get stuck in the surface of the cornea. Rarely, they may penetrate deeper into the eye.
You will need to have a complete eye test. The health care provider may use eye drops called fluorescein dye to help look for injuries.
Tests may include:
First aid for eye emergencies:
Anyone with severe eye pain needs to be seen in an emergency care center or examined by an ophthalmologist right away.
Treatment for corneal injuries may involve:
Most of the time, injuries that affect only the surface of the cornea 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 is not better after 2 days of treatment.
Engel K, Page, M, Montezuma S, Cameron JD. Surgical and Nonsurgical Trauma. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 3; chap 6.
Vinger PF. The Eye and Sports Medicine. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 5; chap 45.
Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 431.
Updated by: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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