The cornea is the clear layer that covers the outside of the eye. It is extremely important, as it focuses the light that enters your eye. A scratch on the cornea is a common condition, but nonetheless a condition that must be addressed by your eye care professional as leaving it unaddressed can lead to serious complications.

What does a scratched cornea feel like?

Feeling like you have something stuck in your eye is downright unpleasant. What’s even more unpleasant is when you blink several times, maybe flush your eye with water, and the feeling won’t go away. Feeling as though you have something stuck in your eye is a common symptom of a scratched cornea. Since the cornea is so sensitive, even the smallest scratches can be extremely bothersome and uncomfortable.

Scratched cornea symptoms 

In addition to feeling as if something large and unpleasant is stuck in your eye, symptoms of a scratched cornea include:

  • Redness of the affected eye
  • Watering of the affected eye
  • Light sensitivity of the affected eye
  • Blurry vision in the affected eye
  • A gritty feeling in the affected eye

The cornea is very sensitive, so if you suspect that you may have a scratched cornea avoid wearing contact lenses and see your eye doctor as soon as possible. Wearing your contact lenses can promote infection and make the scratch worse.

Scratched cornea causes 

In some cases the cause of your scratched cornea will be obvious, for example, if you get poked in the eye with a branch or even your own finger. Many times, however, scratches on the cornea can be caused by less obvious assailants such as makeup brushes, damaged contact lenses, rubbing too hard, or debris in the air. Anything that comes in contact with your eye is a potential danger so it isn’t always easy to isolate a cause of the scratch.

Scratched cornea treatment 

Treatment for a scratched cornea varies depending on how severe the scratch is. Minor scratches may be treated with lubricating eye drops to allow the eye to heal more comfortably, while more severe scratches will be treated with antibiotic eye drops and sometimes a bandage contact lens or eye patch to protect the eye while it heals.

Preventing a scratched cornea

If you feel like something may be stuck in your eye, avoid rubbing – this can drag the object along your cornea and create a scratch. Instead, try to flush the eye with water or contact lens solution or blink repeatedly. If you feel as though something is stuck in your eye, visit your eye doctor or the emergency room to have it safely removed by a professional.

In most cases, a scratched cornea will heal and not cause any permanent damage, but it is important to attend any follow up appointments that your eye care professional recommends, as a scratch that does not heal properly can lead to further problems.