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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Corneal abrasion

Category

Eyes

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

A corneal abrasion happens when you have a scratch on the surface your eye, over the colored area. It can feel very uncomfortable because there are a lot of nerve endings in this part of the eye.

Most corneal abrasions heal in 24-48 hours, so you should not have pain after 24-48 hours. If you still have pain after 24-48 hours, come back to the ER or see an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor) right away.

To treat the pain, you can start by using acetaminophen (which is the same thing as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (same thing as Advil or Motrin). The ER physician may have prescribed you with a stronger medication, like Tylenol #3 or Percocet. These stronger medications can make you sleepy, so don’t drive or operate heavy machinery when taking them. Tylenol #3 and Percocet usually also cause constipation, so take an over-the-counter medicine for constipation, such as Metamucil or Docusate, at the same time as taking these medications.

You may also have been prescribed an antibiotic eye drop, to prevent the eye from becoming infected. You can also use saline eye ointment or saline eye drops at night can help to keep the eye moist.

Unless you were directed to do so by the emergency physician or ophthalmologist, do not cover the eye with an eye patch, either during the day or overnight.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. If you still have pain 48 hours after the injury
  2. If your eye pain is getting much worse within 1-2 days
  3. If there is pus coming out of the eye
  4. Changes in your vision
  5. Fever (≥38.0 °C or 100.4 °F)