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Corneal Scratches: Care Instructions

Picture of the anatomy of the eye

Your Care Instructions

The cornea is the clear surface that covers the front of the eye. When a speck of dirt, a wood chip, an insect, or another object flies into your eye, it can cause a painful scratch on the cornea. Wearing contact lenses too long or rubbing your eyes can also scratch the cornea. Small scratches usually heal in a day or two. Deeper scratches may take longer.

If you have had a foreign object removed from your eye or you have a corneal scratch, you will need to watch for infection and vision problems while your eye heals.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • The doctor probably used a medicine during your exam to numb your eye. When it wears off in 30 to 60 minutes, your eye pain may come back. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Do not rub your injured eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
  • Use the prescribed eyedrops or ointment as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean. To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not use your contact lens in your hurt eye until your doctor says you can. Also, do not wear eye makeup until your eye has healed.
  • Do not drive if you have blurred vision.
  • Bright light may hurt. Sunglasses can help.
  • To prevent eye injuries in the future, wear safety glasses or goggles when you work with machines or tools, mow the lawn, or ride a bike or motorcycle.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have any changes in your vision, flashes of light, or floaters (shadows or dark objects that float across your field of vision).
  • Pain or redness gets worse, or there is yellow, green, or bloody pus coming from the eye.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.