Training Time: Scratched Cornea

Training Time with Max Benton

Max Benton is the Cavaliers Athletic Trainer and tends to the immediate medical needs of the team’s players. Most of his duties center around preventative medicine, treatment, and rehabilitation.

This information should not be used as diagnosis of a particular condition and is intended only to be informative. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, please consult a doctor.


Injuries to the eye can occur in a variety of ways: blows and burns to the eye and foreign objects that lodge in it. In sports, players can miss a few games from a scratched cornea, and it is one of the most common ways an eye can be damaged.


A scratched cornea, or corneal abrasion, is a scratch on the outer layer of the cornea, the clear outer layer on the front of the eye.


An athlete can be poked in the eye by another player or can get hit in the eye by a ball. Some sports, such as boxing, wrestling, and martial arts, are very-high risk, some, such as baseball, football, basketball, and tennis are high-risk, and sports such as swimming or running are low-risk for developing an eye injury. Corneal abrasions can also develop if a small object is lodged in your eye, an object, such as a fingernail or tree branch scratches it, or from contact with dried out, torn, or non-sterile contact lenses.


Scratched corneas are very painful, with the sensation that something is in your eye. Other symptoms include the following:

  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing
  • Blurry vision
  • A scratchy feeling

    Generally speaking, symptoms last for a day or two. If they last longer, it may be the sign of a more serious problem.

    Your eye care doctor will ask you about your symptoms and if you know how the eye was scratched. With special eyedrops, your doctor will be able to determine whether you have an abrasion or not. He or she will also be able to tell whether if an object scratched your eye is still present.


    You will definitely want to see an eye care doctor about this condition. A health care provider may give you some or all of the following to help with a scratched cornea.

  • Antibiotic drops to fight an infection if present
  • Medicine to dilate your eyes that would help to reduce pain and would promote healing
  • A special contact lens that would protect the eye
  • An eye patch to keep the eye closed, thus helping the eye heal and relieving pain