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Corneal abrasions and corneal foreign bodies: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis

Deborah S Jacobs, MD
Section Editors
Jonathan Trobe, MD
Richard G Bachur, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Corneal abrasions are common eye injuries that frequently result from eye trauma, foreign bodies, and improper contact lens use. Patients typically present with severe eye pain and a foreign body sensation. Key aspects of clinical evaluation include exclusion of an open globe and hyphema, measurement of visual acuity, penlight and fluorescein examination, and lid eversion to assess for a conjunctival foreign body. Treatment of small, uncomplicated corneal abrasions consists of topical antibiotic therapy and either topical or oral pain medication. Most abrasions heal fully within 24 hours.

This topic will review the etiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and differential diagnosis of corneal abrasions. The management of corneal abrasions, the general approach to a patient with red eye, and the assessment and management of other ocular injuries are discussed separately:

(See "Corneal abrasions and corneal foreign bodies: Management".)

(See "Evaluation of the red eye".)

(See "Open globe injuries: Emergent evaluation and initial management".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Aug 19, 2016.
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