When most people think of burns, the might imagine burning a hand or an arm on the oven or stove. However, another common burn that occurs in the household are burns to the eye – particularly the cornea.
The corneas is the clear part of the eye that sits over the colored part of the eye and the pupil and helps you to see. Common causes of burns to this area include exposure to the sun and household chemicals like cleaning agents. Odd accidents, such as curling irons slipping when curling the hair around the face, are another cause of cornea burns. Burns to the eye can be incredibly painful, and continue to hurt as though you have gotten something stuck in your eye.
An injury that can feel similar, but has different causes, is a corneal abrasion. These are also uncomfortable, but instead of a burn are a scratch to the cornea. This can be caused by debris falling in the eye or falling asleep while wearing y our contact lenses. Corneal abrasions can leave the eye painful, red, and teary.
Luckily for the people who suffer from cornea burns and abrasions, the cornea heals quickly – the fastest healing part of the body. However, should you burn or scratch your cornea it is still very important to get it looked at and treated to prevent infections and vision loss.
In order to protect your eyes from corneal burns, the best and easiest thing that you can do is to wear sunglasses whenever you go outside. Look for a pair that blocks 100% of the UV light and that is large enough to keep light from getting around the edges of the frames into your eye.
Should you burn your cornea, you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Do not try to treat the injury yourself, as you will risk making the injury worse and permanently damaging your sight.
If you cannot get into the doctor immediately, wear an eye patch over the injured eye in the meantime. You can buy cotton patches at your local drugstore, or you can cover the eye with gauze and tape it in place. An eye patch will help you to keep your eye closed so that your eyelid does not continue to rub against your cornea when you blink. This will help you to prevent further injuring the eye. It will also help decrease the amount of pain that you feel until you can get treatment.
If the cornea burn is caused by exposure to a chemical, it is important to flush the eye immediately and continue flushing it for at least 15 minutes. Many workplaces that work with chemicals will have eye wash stations for this purpose. When at home, you can use the shower or the faucet to flush your eye out. Roll your eye around as much as possible, and use your fingers to help hold the eye open so that you can remove as much of the chemical as possible.
While your eye is healing, you will need to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Using artificial tears will also help keep your eyes lubricated so that the scratch or burn does not become worse.