The cornea of the eye is the clear layer of tissue that goes over the iris and pupil of the eye. The cornea both protects the eye and helps focus light into the eye to make vision possible. Two types of eye injuries that can affect the cornea are corneal abrasions and corneal ulcerations.
Corneal abrasions are scratches on the cornea of the eye. Corneal abrasions can occur from a variety of situations, including: something poking the eye, foreign objects or small particulate matter like sand or dust getting into the eye, rubbing the eyes too hard, contact lenses that do not fit properly and chemical burns. Often, it may not be easy to tell what the cause of a corneal abrasion is because the symptoms can have a delayed onset. Symptoms of corneal abrasions include eye pain that occurs when the eyelids close or open over the abrasion, eye redness, increased tear production, feeling as though there is something inside of the eye, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Some people with corneal abrasions may also experience headaches. Minor corneal abrasions usually heal on their own, but it is recommended to go to the doctor when any eye injury occurs. Severe corneal abrasions may cause vision problems. A doctor can prescribe medicated eye drops to reduce the discomfort of having a corneal abrasion and prevent eye infections. While the corneal abrasion is healing, avoid wearing contact lenses.
Corneal ulcerations are sores that occur on the cornea of the eye. Corneal ulcers are also called corneal erosions. The most common cause of corneal ulcerations are infections, caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. These eye infections are more common in people with suppressed immune systems, but they can also occur when a person has another injury, such as a corneal abrasion, that gets infected. Serious corneal abrasions, if they are not treated, can lead to corneal ulcers. The symptoms of corneal ulcerations are similar to the symptoms of corneal abrasions. Blurred vision, eye redness, eye itching, eye pain and light sensitivity are associated with corneal ulcerations. Treatments for corneal ulcerations include medicated eye drops and treatment of the cause of the eye infection. In cases of severe ulcers that impair vision, corneal transplant surgery may be necessary to restore the vision of the affected eye. Most people do not suffer from long-term vision loss, but severe corneal ulcers can cause permanent vision damage.