It’s no secret that your eyes are delicate organs that can become damaged due to impact or even excessive sun exposure. However, you may not realize that your eyes are also susceptible to surface injuries. Like your skin, the surface of your eyeballs can become scratched.
Corneal abrasions can be mild and hard to detect or far more serious, but all of these injuries should be assessed by an optometrist.
Who Can Suffer Corneal Abrasions?
Injuries to the surface of the eye can happen to anyone at any age. These injuries are most common for people in the following categories:
- Individuals who frequently wear contact lenses
- Individuals with chronically dry eyes
- Toddlers and young children
- Workers whose occupations exposes them to potential irritants
Corneal scratches are most likely to occur in locations or during activities where there is a high risk of foreign objects coming in contact with the eye. For example, abrasions are more likely while children play in sandboxes or while your family visits the beach.
What Causes Corneal Scratches?
An abrasion can happen from any foreign object touching the surface of the eye. Even rubbing your eye can cause scratches if you have foreign particles on your hands, eyelid, or eyeball at the time as discussed in “There’s the Rub: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rub Your Eyes.”
Corneal abrasions can occur due to an accident, such as being poked in the eye, but are most likely to result from the following:
- Chemical exposure
- Debris in the eye
- Dirty or ill-fitting contacts
- Incorrect makeup or eye drops application
You can reduce your risk of corneal scratches by taking the following measures:
- If you feel dust or grime in your eyes, rinse instead of rubbing.
- Keep your contacts well maintained and wear them properly.
- Wear eye protection when in high-risk situations.
Additionally, you should seek treatment when you experience the symptoms of corneal abrasion.
What Are the Signs of Corneal Abrasion?
Due to natural colors and textures of the eyeball, scratches may not be visible to you or to anyone else who doesn’t have the proper equipment.
You should make an appointment with an optometrist if you notice any combination of the following symptoms:
- A gritty feeling that persists after rinsing the affected eye
- Constant pain or an ache similar to having an aggravating object in the eye
- Fuzzy vision
- Redness of the eye
- Sensitivity to light and headache
- Swelling and/or tenderness around the eye in question
- Watery eyes or excessive tear production
An eye doctor can identify the abrasion or abrasions during a close examination. In some cases, the optometrist may put a solution called fluorescein onto the eye. Under a specialized light, the fluorescein makes any scratches glow.
How are Corneal Abrasions Treated?
Your eye doctor will evaluate the depth and extent of the injuries to determine the best treatment.
When the scratch is small and shallow, your eye should heal mostly on its own. Superficial abrasions can close in as little as two days.
If you are prone to eye infections or have multiple abrasions, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic or lubricating eye drops to encourage natural healing.
During the healing period, your optometrist may recommend wearing sunglasses when in direct light and rinsing with a saline solution designed for eye health if you experience more discomfort.
Deeper corneal scratches can lead to lingering discomfort or even permanent vision changes during to scarification of the wound. Cuts from fingernails and other hard-edged objects are more likely to result in serious abrasions.
Your eye doctor may fill in the deepest scratches with a topical solution to help them close more quickly. Then, he or she may apply an antibiotic ointment designed to stay on the surface of the eye over time.
You will likely be prescribed an eye drops regimen to aid in the healing process. Additionally, your optometrist may recommend covering the eye with a medical patch during the first stage of healing. Generally, the patch only needs to be worn for two to four days but you will probably need to wear eye protection when outdoors for a month or so after the injury.
While a corneal scratch is healing, do not wear your usual contact lenses. Your doctor may have you wear bandage lenses instead. These contacts cover the injury and help keep the area lubricated to expedite healing.
Even if your injuries are minor, your doctor will likely set up a secondary appointment one to two days after your initial exam to evaluate how well your eye is responding to treatment.
If you suspect a corneal abrasion, seek treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risk of long-term or permanent damage to the eye.
Are you or a child in your care experiencing symptoms associated with corneal abrasions? Make an appointment at the All About Eyes location nearest you as soon as possible for assessment.
At your last visit to your eye doctor, you found out you have astigmatism. This explains your occasional blurry vision. It even explains your eye pain and headaches.
You worry about your new diagnosis. You’ve heard the term “astigmatism” before, but you’re not sure what it is and how it might affect you.
Unfortunately, there are some false beliefs about astigmatism that can give you the wrong idea about this condition.
1. It’s Rare and Dangerous
You might worry that astigmatism is a dangerous and rare condition. Actually, astigmatism is very common. In fact, most people have some level of astigmatism. For many people, it’s mild enough to avoid treatment. Some people don’t even experience any astigmatism symptoms.
Astigmatism is when the cornea is slightly curved rather than completely round. In other words, your cornea is shaped more like a football than a basketball. With astigmatism, light focuses on several points of the retina rather just one point. This can cause blurry or distorted vision.
2. It’s Harmless
On the other end of the spectrum, some people believe that astigmatism causes no problems and can be ignored. While this is true for some people, others develop symptoms such as:
- Eye strain
Many people with astigmatism squint, which can worsen symptoms. And of course, living with blurry, distorted vision can be annoying, stressful, and even dangerous.
3. It’s Caused by Poor Vision Habits
Some people believe astigmatism is caused by poor vision habits, such as reading in the dark or sitting close to the TV. There’s no evidence for this, however. In fact, many people are born with astigmatism. Some people develop it after an eye surgery or eye injury. It can worsen or improve over time just like other vision conditions, but not because of someone’s vision habits.
4. It’s Not Treatable
If your eye doctor didn’t prescribe any special treatment for astigmatism, you may believe the condition isn’t treatable. However, this could simply mean your astigmatism isn’t serious enough to warrant correction.
If your astigmatism is serious, there are several treatments available.
Soft contact lenses.
Your optometrist may give you a contact-lens prescription that addresses your astigmatism. Contact lenses that correct astigmatism are shaped like a sphere in the front and a cylinder in the back. You’ll also see a third number in your prescription. This is the axis of astigmatism, indicating which way your astigmatism is oriented.
Gas-permeable contact lenses.
Instead of soft contact lenses, your eye doctor might prescribe gas-permeable contact lenses. These contact lenses maintain their shape while on your eyes, and this corrects your eyes’ irregular shape.
As with contacts, your eye doctor can give you a glasses prescription that addresses your astigmatism. The specific cylindrical shape of your lenses is built to correct your astigmatism.
Your optometrist might prescribe a series of special contact lenses designed to slowly reshape your cornea. You’ll wear a pair of these contact lenses for a time period each day, such as overnight. You must continue to wear these lenses, or else your vision could return to what it was before.
By changing the shape of your cornea, laser surgeries like LASIK and PRK can correct astigmatism.
Ask your optometrist about the best treatment for you. He or she can explain more about each treatment option and help you weigh the benefits of each.
5. Everyone’s Astigmatism Is the Same
In reality, astigmatism differs for each individual. To understand the different types of astigmatism, you should know that your eye has two meridians, or sections. There are three main types of astigmatism:
- Hyperopic. Your eyes are farsighted in one or both meridians.
- Myopic. Your eyes are nearsighted in one or both meridians.
- Mixed. Your eyes are nearsighted in one meridian and farsighted in the other.
Regular astigmatism is where your two meridians are 90 degrees from each other. Irregular astigmatism is where your meridians are at a different angle from each other.
Glasses or contacts to correct astigmatism are adjusted to correct your unique astigmatism prescription.
6. Astigmatism Makes Night Driving Impossible
People with astigmatism often struggle to drive at night. The glare from street lights and headlights looks blurry and distorted. This is because the pupils dilate at night. While this lets in more light, it also increases the blurring effect.
This doesn’t mean people with astigmatism can never drive at night. Astigmatism treatments can correct blurred vision and make night driving possible.
If an eye doctor told you that you have astigmatism, you might feel confused or concerned. Knowing the truth behind astigmatism’s misconceptions can help you understand how common and treatable this condition really is.
Don’t let astigmatism lower your quality of living. If you want to learn more about your treatment options for astigmatism, set an appointment with All About Eyes.