Is A Scratched Eye Serious?
Suffering a scratched eye is not all that uncommon, and is something we experience which usually does not require emergency care. The medical term for a scratched eye is corneal abrasion. The cornea is the transparent covering of the eyeball, the part of the eyeball exposed to the environment, and hence the most susceptible to damage or injury. While a scratched eye or corneal abrasion may not constitute and emergency, whereas something piercing the cornea would, it's still better to be safe than sorry in most cases. Losing one's eyesight, or even suffering from impaired vision for the rest of one's life simply because a scratched eyeball wasn't looked into and properly administered to, would be a tragedy.
The causes of a scratched eyeball can be many. Something as little as a particle of sand or dust can cause an abrasion. A minor eyeball injury is not all that uncommon when participating in sports, and a scratched eyeball is perhaps most common in a game of basketball, where hands and fingers are flying about, and often close to the face. A hot cigarette ash, or a spark from a grinding wheel can damage the corona. Although either situation could be properly classified as a burn, the effect is usually the same as a scratch. In the latter case, the grinding wheel, there is always the chance that a small particle may have actually penetrated the cornea, which could be a potentially more serious situation.
A piece of sand in your eye however, seldom requires a visit to the doctor. If natural tears don't do the job, washing the eye with tap water, or a saline solution, probably will. If the particle won't come out, or if it feels as if something is still in the eye after a certain amount of time has elapsed, a visit to a care provider may be needed. Our eyes are very good at telling us when they've been injured, no matter how slight the injury may be. There are many nerve endings in the cornea, probably for good reason, and even the minutest of scratches or abrasions is apt to cause discomfort, and probably pain.
Treatment At Home - What To Consider - If you are going to treat a corneal abrasion on your own, there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind. A scratched eye usually heals very quickly, most often in a day or two, unless the scratch is a particularly bad one. If, after a day or two the pain or discomfort has not gone away, or has become worse, it's best to see a doctor or ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Either something has penetrated into the eyeball and you're not just dealing with a scratch, or an infection has set in. Neither is particularly good news. The other thing worth mentioning is, avoid wearing a patch. Placing a patch over the eye seems a natural thing to do, but is generally not recommended unless an ophthalmologist does it for a reason. If your eyeball has suffered a scratch, and a patch is placed over the eye, you've created a dark, warm, and moist environment, just the sort of environment that bacteria flourish in. So wearing a patch could conceivably lead to an eye infection.
Take It Easy, Very Easy - Treating an injured eye is in some ways similar to treating other types of injuries, in that rest is helpful in the healing process. Sitting for a time with the eyes closed is far safer and more effective than wearing a patch. It's also beneficial to avoid bright lights while healing is progressing. Wearing sunglasses can help here. Reading or watching TV can slow the healing process as well. Just as is the case with a sprained muscle or a broken bone, rest can help to heal a scratched eye.