Understanding Corneal Abrasions In Children

Posted on: 27 November 2020

The cornea is the clear layer at the front of the eye that protects the pupil and iris. In addition to its protective role, the cornea also focuses light as it enters the eye and travels to the retina at the back of the eye. Corneal abrasions are relatively common in children and can vary in severity from a light scratch to a tear in the top layer of the cornea, known as the epithelium. Common causes of corneal abrasions in children include scratches from tree branches or sports equipment, dirt, detergents and trauma from a fall. Children who have dry eyes can also experience a corneal abrasion when their eyelids stick to the cornea. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for corneal abrasion in children:


Symptoms of corneal abrasion include sensitivity to light, eye pain, localised inflammation, itchy or irritated eyes and headaches. Visual disturbances are also common due to the abrasion affecting the angle at which light enters the eye. When light does not reach the retina at the correct angle for clear vision, visual disturbances will occur, such as blurred vision and the presence of floaters and flashes in the child's peripheral vision.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

To make a diagnosis, an optometrist will take details of the child's symptoms and carry out an eye exam. They will use a slit lamp, which is similar to a microscope, to magnify the cornea and determine whether there are any scratches, tears or signs of inflammation or infection. The cornea may also be swabbed to check for the presence of harmful bacteria, as an abrasion can allow bacteria to take hold and infect the cornea or other parts of the eye.

The optometrist will recommend a treatment approach based on the severity of the abrasion and the child's symptoms. Mild abrasions can be treated with eye drops to keep the cornea moist and allow it to heal on its own, while deep abrasions may require topical or oral steroids to reduce inflammation and support healing. The optometrist may also recommend the use of an eye patch to keep the abrasion clean and allow the eye to rest, which can speed up healing. Additionally, if an infection is present, antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed. Follow-up appointments will be arranged to ensure the abrasion is healing and to check the child's vision after treatment.

If your child has symptoms associated with corneal abrasion, schedule an eye test with a children's optometrist as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary discomfort.