When your child complains about a sharp pain in their eye, it’s common to worry that they may have scratched it. The medical term for this is a corneal abrasion. The cornea is the clear, protective outer layer of the eyeball. When it’s scratched, which can happen due to anything from a grain of sand to a sharp object brushing against the eye, it can be a very painful experience, and it leaves the eye vulnerable to infection. We’ll go over the symptoms of a corneal abrasion as well as what you should do if you suspect your child has one.
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A corneal abrasion usually results in a feeling of pain and an inability to open the eye for long. Sensitivity to light, eye watering, and redness may also occur. A child may complain that it feels like something is in their eye. Assess the situation and ask your child if they accidentally scratched their eye and how it happened.
Diagnosis of corneal abrasion
If you think your child has had a corneal abrasion, bring them in to see their pediatrician or take them to your local pediatric urgent care immediately. The doctor will use some special eye drops to numb the eye (since it will be very hard for your child to open it otherwise). Then, the doctor can use a special dye that highlights the scratch when looked at under UV light.
Corneal abrasion treatment
If a scratched cornea is found, the doctor will prescribe your child some antibiotic eye drops. The scratched cornea leaves your child’s eye at a higher risk of bacteria or other pathogens entering and causing infection. As with any antibiotic treatment, ensure that your child receives the full course. If they don’t, they run the risk of a possible infection returning and being harder to fight the second time. Prophylactic antibiotics are usually the only treatment given because the eye will heal quickly on its own just like a scratch on the skin. However, follow up with an ophthalmologist may be recommended to ensure the corneal abrasion is healing properly.
A corneal abrasion can be a frightening diagnosis, but it rarely causes any lasting complications, and the vast majority of the time these injuries heal quickly and fully. If you suspect your child has a corneal abrasion, follow up with your pediatrician or bring them in to MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care where our experienced team will have them in and out quickly.