If you’ve ever been at the beach and had a grain of sand or dust blow into your eye, and you rubbed it to get rid of it, you probably made it worse and scratched your cornea. A corneal abrasion is very painful and causes your eyes to water, and sometimes burn. But the good news is that our eyes are some of the quickest healing tissue in our entire bodies. Some injuries heal in just hours, where a scratch on the skin will take days to heal at best.
The cornea is the clear, protective lens in front of the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil (the black circle in the middle of the eye). A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea, and it can be caused by a whole host of things:
The issue is that symptoms of an abrasion may take a while to develop, so you may not know what actually caused the problem. The first instinct when symptoms do appear is to rub the eye, which of course should be avoided. Instead, try blinking a lot or rinse the eye with clear water. If you still feel like something is caught in your eye, see an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Now, how does that eye heal so quickly? The reason for the rate of healing is the type of cells that make up the outer-most layers of your eyeball. When your eye is scratched, a layer of cells is actually scraped away from the surface of your eye, and has to be replaced with new cells. Lucky for us, the surface of your eyes consist of living cells that have the ability to rearrange themselves and migrate to where the cells are missing. This is different from a scratch on your arm, for example. The outer layers of skin on your arm consist of non-living cells, layered 3 or 4 cells deep. Because these top layers are already dead, they can’t move around and you have to wait for new layers of cells to work their way up to the surface (by sloughing off the dead cells over time) for the healing to take place.
Your eyes are incredibly valuable and should be treated with care and professionalism when any issue occurs. Rely on the experience and expertise of Dr. Shofner and his staff to care for your eyes and ensure the best vision possible for as long as possible.