A scratched eye, also called a corneal abrasion, is a common occurrence. It typically results in pain, tearing up, light sensitivity, and sometimes swelling. A scratch can be caused by dirt in the eye or even your own eyelashes. In most cases the discomfort is temporary and your eye recovers quickly, but in some instances, you may need more care. The following can help you treat the damage.
1. Remove Contact Lenses
If you wear contact lenses, the first thing to do is to remove them at the first sign of discomfort. Not only do you need your eyes to tear freely without the lenses, all too often contact lenses end up trapping the foreign object that is causing the irritation in the first place. Contacts can also restrict the eye if it begins to swell, which may lead to further issues. Make sure to wash your hands before removing the lens so you don't introduce any further irritating matter.
2. Perform an Eye Rinse
Rinse your eye so that any remaining foreign material is washed out. Ideally, this can be done with saline solution squirted into the eye in a steady stream. If you do not have saline solution handy, you can use water. One effective technique is to fill a bowl with water. Place your face in the bowl so the eye is submerged, and blink rapidly. You can also pour water over the open eye.
3. Blink Correctly
Blinking can help dislodge the object causing the scratch, but doing so incorrectly may actually make the scratch worse. Grasp the edge of your upper eyelid and pull it away from your eye. Now attempt to blink repeatedly. Often foreign material gets stuck at the edge of the upper eyelid, near the lashes, so when you blink you continuously scrape it across the eyeball. By pulling the lid up slightly, you can clear the object without further damage.
4. Cover Your Eye
Your eye will be sensitive to both air and light as it heals. For minor scratches, it's advisable to wear sunglasses when around bright light so that your eye doesn't become irritated. If your eye is badly scratched, you may need to have a patch over it until it heals.
5. Get Emergency Care
You must seek emergency care if you cannot dislodge the object or if the pain or irritation is severe. Contact your eye doctor first. They may refer you to their office, an emergency room, an urgent care center, or an optometrist that handles eye injuries.
Contact an emergency eye care service so you can get the treatment you need.