Scratched Cornea: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, And Tips

Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on

Do you rub your eyes to relieve constant itching? Or do you use your fingertips to get rid of any foreign particle in your eyes? Though it seems like a good idea, have you ever thought of the grave consequences of such actions? A scratched cornea or a corneal abrasion is more often than not a result of carelessness. A poke, a scratch, or even the entry of any sharp foreign particles into your eye can lead to the injury of your cornea. To know more about this condition and how it can be treated right at home, read on.

What Is Corneal Abrasion (Scratched Eye)?

Corneal abrasion or a scratched eye is a scrape on the clear part of your eye. This clear part is the cornea, which is a transparent sheath covering the iris or the colored part of your eyes.

Since the cornea has many nerve endings, any rupture or scratch to it can be quite painful.

Corneal abrasion may result in the following signs and symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of Corneal Abrasion

  • Sensation of a foreign particle inside the eye
  • Tearing
  • Distorted vision
  • Eye pain, especially when exposed to bright light
  • Muscle spasms in the eye, causing your eye to squint

Corneal abrasion is often caused by physical trauma to your eyes. The causes and risk factors that are associated with a scratched cornea are given below.

Causes And Risk Factors For Corneal Abrasion

You can get a corneal abrasion by:

  • Getting hit in your eye with any sharp object
  • Any foreign body entering your eyes through the wind
  • Using a grinding wheel or other similar equipment without eye protection
  • Cigarette ash flying into your eyes
  • Getting poked by a fingernail
  • Wearing contact lenses for too long
  • Eye infections that result in injury
  • Direct exposure of your eyes to sunlight

Risk factors that increase your risk of developing a corneal abrasion include:

  • Outdoor activities
  • Having young children around you, who can poke your eyes
  • Operating power equipment without appropriate eye protection
  • Wearing contact lenses on a daily basis
  • Suffering physical trauma to the face
  • Facial surgery
  • Eye disorders

Corneal abrasion may take quite a while to heal completely on its own. To help your eye heal faster and reduce the appearance of the scratch in your cornea, here are some simple and effective home remedies.

How To Treat Corneal Abrasion Naturally

Home Remedies To Treat A Scratched Cornea

1. Tea Bags

You Will Need

Tea bags (green tea or normal tea)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take two used tea bags.
  2. Once the tea bags are lukewarm, gently place them on your eyelids.
  3. You can also refrigerate the tea bags.
  4. Leave them on both your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this at least thrice daily.

Why This Works

Teas contain catechins, which are powerful antioxidants that can speed up the healing of your scratched cornea and relieve pain (1).

2. Cold Compress

Scratched Cornea - Cold Compress
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

A cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a cold compress to the affected eye for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove and repeat 2 to 3 times.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

A cold compress offers immediate relief to the injured eye with its soothing and cooling effects. It reduces the pain and inflammation in your eyes almost instantly (2).

3. Warm Compress

Scratched Cornea - Warm Compress
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • A washcloth
  • Hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a clean washcloth and soak it in a bowl of hot water.
  2. Remove and strain the washcloth.
  3. Apply the lukewarm cloth to your closed eyelid.
  4. Leave it on for about 5 minutes and repeat twice.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this multiple times daily.

Why This Works

Warm compresses are a great option to relieve the symptoms of a corneal abrasion like swelling and reddening of the eyes. They also prevent further damage (3).

4. Essential Oils

1. Cedarwood Essential Oil

Scratched Cornea - Cedarwood Essential Oil
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of cedarwood essential oil
  • A diffuser
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of cedarwood essential oil to a diffuser filled with water.
  2. Inhale the diffused aroma.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Cedarwood oil exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities, both of which help in relieving the symptoms of pain and inflammation in the affected eye (4).

2. Lavender Essential Oil

Scratched Cornea - Lavender Essential Oil
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of lavender oil
  • A diffuser
What You Have To Do
  1. Add three to four drops of lavender oil to a diffuser filled with water.
  2. Inhale the diffused air.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily, preferably before bedtime.

Why This Works

Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which make it helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with corneal abrasion (5).

5. Vitamins

Scratched Cornea - Vitamins
Image: Shutterstock

Vitamins C, E, and A can help in healing a corneal abrasion or scratched cornea.

The antioxidant-rich vitamin C can help repair the damaged cornea cells with its ability to synthesize collagen (6).

Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can help in treating a scratched cornea while also delaying age-related damage to your eyes (7).

Vitamin A is great for your eyes when taken internally or applied topically due to its wound-healing potential (8).

6. Coconut Oil

Scratched Cornea - Coconut Oil
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

A drop of extra virgin coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a tiny drop of extra virgin coconut oil on your cleansed little finger.
  2. Slowly place the drop near your tear ducts, in the inner corner of your eye.
  3. Blink until your vision clears.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Coconut oil acts as a natural lubricant and helps in keeping your eyes well lubricated (9). Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities help in relieving pain and inflammation in your eyes (10).

These remedies will surely help you combat the pain in your eyes and treat corneal abrasion. There are also some tips you need to follow to ensure complete recovery.

Prevention Tips

There are also some prevention tips that you must consider taking along with the above remedies for successful recovery from a corneal abrasion.


  • Rinse your eyes with saline or cold water.
  • Blink your eyes at regular intervals after long durations of staring at the computer.
  • Brush your upper eyelid with your lower eyelid to get rid of particles stuck in your upper eye.
  • Always wear sunglasses while going outdoors.


  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not use your fingers or tissues to touch your eyes.
  • Do not wear your contact lenses until you have recovered completely.

When it comes to your eyes, prevention is definitely better than cure and regrets later on. You need to take proper care of your eyes because, after all, they are your windows to the world. Let us know if this article was helpful by commenting in the box below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best eye drops for scratched cornea?

Eye drops that contain antibiotics are your best bet when it comes to treating a corneal scratch. Steroid based eye drops can help reduce the scarring and inflammation in your eyes. If you are looking for natural alternatives, coconut oil can help to a great extent.

How long does a corneal abrasion take to heal?

Surface abrasions tend to heal quickly, say 2 to 3 days. However, a deeper scratch may take days or weeks to heal completely.

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Shaheen Naser
Shaheen NaserHealth & Wellness Writer
Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from Bharathiar University. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling.

Read full bio of Shaheen Naser
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