What is corneal scratches?

Corneal Scratches
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Corneal scratches in children: Overview

The cornea is the clear surface that covers the front of the eye. When a speck of dirt, a wood chip, an insect, or another object flies into your child's eye, it can cause a painful scratch on the cornea. Your child also can scratch the cornea by wearing contact lenses too long or by rubbing his or her eyes. Small scratches usually heal in a day or two. Deeper scratches may take longer.

If your child has had a foreign object removed from his or her eye or has a corneal scratch, you will need to watch for infection and vision problems while the eye heals.

How can you care for your child's corneal scratches?

  • The doctor may have used a medicine during your child's exam to numb your child's eye pain. When it wears off in 30 to 60 minutes, the eye pain may come back. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not let your child rub the injured eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
  • Use the prescribed eyedrops or ointment as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean. To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Have your child tilt his or her head back and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Have your child close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your child's eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not let your child use a contact lens in the hurt eye until the doctor says it is okay. Also, do not let your child wear eye makeup until the eye has healed.
  • Do not let teens drive if they have blurred vision.
  • Bright light may hurt. Sunglasses can help.
  • To prevent eye injuries in the future, have your child wear safety glasses or goggles when he or she works with machines or tools, mows the lawn, or rides a bike or motorcycle.

Corneal scratches in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has new or worse eye pain.
  • Your child has vision changes.
  • It seems like there is something in your child's eye.
  • Light hurts your child's eye.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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