Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion is a disruption of the corneal epithelium.


This is usually caused by an injury to the eye in some form, e.g.:

  • Trauma from a large object e.g. finger(nail)s, mascara brushes, paper etc
  • Trauma from particles e.g. dust, sand, debris
  • Trauma from contact lens wear
  • Ocular foreigh body under the eyelid
  • corneal foreign body
  • UV keratitis

Symptoms and signs

Corneal abrasions will usually be very painful, and there may be associated lacrimation and pericorneal injection of the eye.  Photophobia is usually also present.

Typically, abrasions will be easy to visualise with fluorescein staining.  NB some patients may require some topical anaesthetic before an examination can take place to ease the pain.

Other signs of corneal ulceration and infection should be looked for e.g. dendritic morphology, hypopyon etc.


Chloramphenicol ointment is often prescribed to soothe the eye as well as prevent secondary infection.  The cornea should heal in 1-2 days (normally).  If the abrasion persists for longer than 7 days, another cause should be considered e.g. trochomatis.

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