The Pain and Treatment for a Scratched Eye

Victor LopesEye Health

by Dr. Nadine Shelton

red eyes

Eye pain from a scratched cornea can be extremely painful

Causes of a Scratched Eye

A scratched eye, is most commonly the result of the outer surface of the cornea being scratched by an object or the effect of an abrasion. There are several instances where one can suffer from a scratched eye. As a parent, there has been a time where my child randomly poked my eye, which resulted in a scratched cornea. Being poked in the eye however, makes up the rare occasion were a scratch result. Commonly, workplace debris, chemicals, walking amongst trees and bushes, sand and dust, a pet, makeup brushes. Poor use of contacts from poor fit or sensitivity to the contacts solution, seem to me to have a higher probability in scratching your eye are some of the other causes.


How the Cornea Works

The human cornea covers the front visible part of the eye and about .5 mm thick and serves as a protective barrier from dirt, infections, germs and other foreign objects getting into your eye. It is clear to allow light through to the inside of your eye to allow vision to happen. The cornea is oxygenated directly from the air and from tears absorbed over the surface from your eyelids from each opening and closing, as any blood vessels would obscure your vision. The cornea, however has many nerve fibers imbedded, increasing the sensitivity several hundred times greater than your skin, making any injury feel amazing painful. The simple act of opening and closing your eyelids may generate excruciating pain.  

Swelling, blurred sight, sensitivity to light, eye discharge, red eyes, tearing, pain, the feeling of sand or grit in your eye and an itchy or burning sensation are the signs and symptoms of an eye scratch or a cornea scratch.

Treatment and Healing from a Cornea Scratch

Keep blinking, pull your upper eyelid over your lower one to remove any debris, rinse your eye with clean water or saline solution if you have it and wear sunglasses or glasses during healing. Avoid rubbing your eye, wearing contacts, touching your eye, reading or watching TV as it may irritate and cause further pain to your eye. Rest is the best medicine. Use cold on your eye to reduce swelling and a warm compress to help relieve pain. Keep the area clean and dry for the most part.

The cornea has an impressive ability to heal itself more than any other tissue in the human body. In common eye scratches or abrasions can heal itself within two to four days for minor eye scratches and longer for more severe cases. Eye-relieving drops may be recommended to keep the eye moist and comfort to your eye as it heals. Be aware that eye scratches can be very serious and lead to additional problems with great pain, infections and in some rare occasions, vision loss. Further damage may occur and is strongly advisable to seek medical care from an Optometrist, as soon as practicable. This will ensure the correct treatment and care are given for the best outcome, being the return to normal eye function.   

Flushing the Eye

The best way to flush out your eye is with a saline solution in a sanitized or clean small glass held up to the bone underneath your eye socket with your eye submerged in the solution. Do this a few times to remove any debris or until your eye feels better.

Consider dimming the lights, applying cold or warm treatments to your eye, taking pain relievers. As well as using Optometrist recommended eye drops and sleeping on the opposite side of your injury to reduce eye pressure in the injured eye. I find wearing an eye patch does little in reducing the pain or the healing time of a cornea scratch

Vinylize Eyewear

Wearing glasses or sunglasses can help prevent eye scratches and other eye injuries


Consider using glasses or sunglasses on a regular basis to add a layer of protection to your eyes. Glasses can be made to suit anyone even if they do not need a prescription. The lenses and coating available can enhance your vision. At the same time offering a greater degree of protection to everyday potential scratches. Take care of what and when you do your activities, will also offer another layer of prevention to eye scratches and other injuries.

Please see your optometrist for a consultation or call us at nv eye care, about concerns with your scratched eye. It is also important to seek professional help, if the treatment is not working. After a couple days, as you may have the wrong diagnosis or require stronger eye drops.

Eye Care at nv During COVID-19

Here at nv eye care & eye wear we are open for all your routine and emergent eye care. We limit the people in our office during COVID. It is best to call ahead or email to ensure we are not busy helping someone else. 

Please call the Misericordia Urgent Eye Care Clinic at 204-774-6581, if you have eye issues and are feeling sick, or for afterhours eye care. You must call us to reschedule any appointments you have made with us, if you are feeling sick.


nv store front image

nv is open for regular eye care at 698 Corydon Ave in Winnipeg, Canada

Eye Care Advice

We are here for your eye care needs during these difficult times. Do not hesitate to call or email us at nv eye care & eye wear, if you have any questions. For more answers to your vision health questions, please contact me, Dr. Nadine Shelton at nv eye care eye wear, 204-504-6863 or

Dr. Nadine Shelton, optometrist and owner of nv

The Owner

Dr. Nadine Shelton B.Sc, O.D. studied at University of Winnipeg, Canada and Indiana University, USA. She has worked abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico assisting outreach patient eye care with VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). Her university days focused on early child eye care and low vision. Dr. Shelton has been practicing optometry for fourteen years in Winnipeg and has celebrated five years in her own practice with her partner Victor Lopes in the heart of the Corydon Village called nv. nv is a full service optical where eye exams are available and a great selection of unique to the city eye wear can be found.  Learn more at, call us at (204) 504-6863 or come see us at 100-698 Corydon Ave in Winnipeg, Canada.