Definition of Corneal Injury

Corneal Injury – lacerations, punctures, and blunt trauma to the cornea. because of its position, somewhat protruding at the front of the eye, the cornea is at risk for damage that can jeopardize vision.

Corneal injuries require immediate medical attention. Any puncture or penetrating wound to the eye is a medical emergency. Loosely patch both eyes to minimize eye movement.

Dust, dirt, pollen, and other particulates in the air can scratch the surface of the cornea. Particles that adhere to the inside of the upper eyelid or objects that slash across the cornea before the eyelid reflexively closes may cause lacerations (cuts) to the cornea.

Though the cornea has no blood vessels and thus cannot bleed, it has numerous nerve endings that unmistakably sound the alert when injury occurs. Injury to the cornea also can diminish visual acuity.

Puncture or penetrating injuries can destroy the cornea and expose the inner eye to traumatic damage as well as infection. Even minor abrasions and lacerations can cause temporary vision impairment as well as present the risk for infection. Loss of the eye is possible when a significant penetrating wound allows the inner contents of the eye to escape.

Symptoms of Corneal Injury

Symptoms of corneal injury include

  • Discomfort ranging from a scratchy sensation to frank PAIN
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Excessive tearing
  • Inability to keep the eye open
  • Blurred or distorted vision

Diagnosis and Treatment

The ophthalmologist can identify a corneal injury with fluorescein staining, a simple and painless procedure. Any areas of injury on the cornea absorb the fluorescein dye, causing them to glow green under blue light. Serious injuries to the cornea, or embedded foreign objects, may require immediate surgery to minimize loss of vision.

Treatment for injuries that affect only the surface of the cornea may include ophthalmic antibiotic medications (drops or ointment) and patching of the affected eye. Protective eyewear, worn whenever there is the potential for particles or objects to strike the eye, helps prevent corneal injuries.


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