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First Aid & Emergencies

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Scratched Eye/Corneal Abrasion Treatment

Seek emergency care if:

  • There is pain, change in vision, or increased sensitivity to light after a scratch or trauma to the eyeball.
  • There is a foreign object lodged in the eye or eyelid.
  • There is loss of vision.
  • Something hit the eye at high speed or with high force.

1. Clean and Protect the Eye

  • Inspect the eye for small particles that may be stuck under the eyelid and causing symptoms.
  • Flush the eye with clean water or saline solution once or twice to remove any particles or to soothe the eye surface. Do not rinse the eye more than a few times. Doing so can make the situation worse.
  • Avoid rubbing or pressing on the eye.

2. When to See a Health Care Provide

Get medical help if:

  • The person has blurred vision or eye pain, tearing, redness, or irritation even if there does not appear to be something in the eye. There may be a scratch on the surface of the eye called a corneal abrasion.

3. Follow Up

If you see a health care provider:

  • The health care provider will examine the eye for damage, remove any particles, and check the vision.
  • Antibiotic ointment or pain relievers may be prescribed.
  • Small, surface corneal abrasions heal in a couple of days. Pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can be taken for pain. Avoid ibuprofen and other NSAIDs if the person has heart failure or kidney failure.
  • For larger abrasions, care from an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) may be needed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 17, 2013

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