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Corneal Scratches in Children: 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 child's eye, it can cause a painful scratch on the cornea. Your child also can scratch the cornea by wearing contact lenses too long or by rubbing his or her eyes. Small scratches usually heal in a day or two. Deeper scratches may take longer.

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

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's 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 your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • The doctor may have used a medicine during your child's exam to numb your child's eye pain. When it wears off in 30 to 60 minutes, the eye pain may come back. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not let your child rub the 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:
    • Have your child tilt his or her head back and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Have your child close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your child's eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not let your child use a contact lens in the hurt eye until the doctor says it is okay. Also, do not let your child wear eye makeup until the eye has healed.
  • Do not let teens drive if they have blurred vision.
  • Bright light may hurt. Sunglasses can help.
  • To prevent eye injuries in the future, have your child wear safety glasses or goggles when he or she works with machines or tools, mows the lawn, or rides a bike or motorcycle.

When should you call for help?

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

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

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has 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.