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Scratched Cornea Or Viral Pink Eye? How To Tell The Difference

By Essilor News

When your eye or your child's eye reddens, it's typical to jump to the conclusion of a contagious disease such as viral pink eye (conjunctivitis), but how can you tell the difference between a scratch and a case of conjunctivitis?

Eye scratches and viral pink eye have different symptoms starting with the kind of pain felt. For instance, someone with a corneal abrasion, a scratch on the clear lens called the cornea above the colored, circular center of one's eye, would feel like sand or grit is in the eye and would have pain opening or closing his or her eye. In contrast, someone with viral pink eye would experience itching or burning eyelids and sensitivity on the front of the ears. Both eye conditions will cause tearing and redness.

Viral pink eye has other symptoms that can be seen by others like clear or slightly thick, whitish drainage and swelling of the eyelids. While not a visible symptom, someone with a corneal abrasion might also have vision problems such as blurred vision.

The good news for those with viral pink eye is that the symptoms will generally disappear on their own after a few days; however, there are instances where healing time can take longer, and an eye doctor should be consulted for best course of treatment.

The severity and length of time to recover from corneal abrasion varies. What's important is your eye should be protected until it's properly diagnosed by a medical professional. According to All About Vision, you should not rub or patch the eye as "bacteria like dark, warm places to grow, and a patch might provide the ideal environment. Simply keep the eye closed or loosely tape a paper cup or eye shield over it."

For viral pink eye, the Mayo Clinic suggests a patient stop using contact lenses until visiting an eye doctor. Wash your hands frequently to lessen the chance of infecting other people. Don't share towels with other people for the same reason. For parents, this means give your child a separate towel from yourself and others in your household. Also, encourage frequent hand washing among your entire family. This will also help prevent future cases of viral pink eye.

Take the appropriate steps to not spread or worsen the eye condition you or your child has and see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember- you should always contact a medical professional immediately if any eye infections or injuries are observed.