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How to Prevent and Treat Scratched Eyes

prevent scratches refocus april 2023

Scratched eyes can occur suddenly and painfully, and can have detrimental consequences without immediate medical attention. This month, our experts are highlighting how to prevent eye scratches, the symptoms to look for, and how to best treat the scratch efficiently and accurately.

Preventing Eye Scratches

It may be surprising to learn that about half of all eye injuries, which includes scratches, happen right at home. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), home activities that can injure eyes include:

  • Cleaning
  • Home improvement
  • Yard work

Unfortunately, only about 3 in 10 people wear protective eyewear during these and other home activities, thereby opening themselves up to a greater risk for eye injury. Research shows that just by wearing protective eyewear, the risk of eye injury is reduced by 90%! This is by and large the best way to protect against eye injury. Our ReFocus experts recommend that every family have at least one pair of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved eyewear in the home to help prevent injuries like eye scratches.

Understanding Symptoms of Eye Scratches

While housework and sports are two of the most common causes of eye injury, even cooking or playing with a pet can lead to scratched eyes. If you do receive an eye scratch, symptoms may begin right away, or they may start and then worsen over time.

Common symptoms of scratched eyes include:

  • Eye pain
  • Feeling of something stuck in the eye
  • Tearing

If you’ve scratched the white part of your eye, you may also see a spot of blood, a scratched line, or general redness.

If you’ve scratched your cornea - the clear, round dome at the front of the eye that covers the iris and pupil – more severe symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache

It’s important to see an ophthalmologist right away after scratching your eye, as an ophthalmologist can properly diagnosis the injury as a scratch and advise on the optimal treatment plan for the injury.

Treating Eye Scratches

While it is possible for some eye scratches to heal on their own within a few days, it is always a good idea to see an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam.

One key reminder after receiving an eye scratch is to not use any drops before first consulting with your ophthalmologist. Your doctor first needs to understand the type of eye scratch, location, extent, etc. before possibly prescribing an eye drop that will best fit your needs. Additional reminders for treating eye scratches include:

  • Rinse scratched eye with saline solution or clean water to flush any foreign objects from the eye
  • Blink regularly and often to remove any small bits of dust or sand in the eye
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent additional sensitivity to light
  • Avoid rubbing the eye, as this can worsen the scratch
  • Do not touch the eye with any objects, including fingers, cotton swaps, etc. Doing so can further damage the eye
  • Do not wear contact lenses, as they can slow the healing process and cause complications like infections

Every eye scratch is unique to the individual, so while these are helpful guidelines to consider, an ophthalmologist is ultimately the expert to consult for your custom treatment plan.

If you currently have an eye injury, or you want to have contact information on-hand for experts to call when you need support, check out our expert ReFocus physicians here. We are available to answer any questions and help determine the treatment plan that is best for you. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule an appointment!