My Child Scratched His Eye…What Should I Do?

A scratched eye, known as a corneal abrasion, is an injury commonly experienced by children.

What causes a scratched eye?

child with scratched eyeOften times, the cause of a scratched eye is simply accidental, ranging from babies exploring their face with their hands, a foreign object entering the eye, another small child accidentally poking the eye, or playing sports.

The injury may be felt right away or may not become apparent until a couple hours later.

What are the symptoms of a scratched eye?

Usually, the child will feel pain or the sensation of something being stuck in the eye, which may be accompanied by tearing, sensitivity to light, or blurred vision.

Because the cornea is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, even the smallest of scratches will feel incredibly painful. You may not be able to see the scratch, but you may notice your redness in your child’s eye.

How can irritants be removed from the eye?

If the injury is caused by something irritating the eye, there are a number of home treatments you can utilize, including the following recommended by Essilor:

  • Rinse the eye with a saline solution or clean water.
  • Fill a small, clean glass with the solution and rest the rim of the glass against the bone at the bottom of the child’s eye socket.
  • If the cause is suspected to be a foreign object, ask your child to blink until the object leaves the eye.
  • Pull the upper eyelid over the lower eyelid to brush away the foreign object.

What treatments are available for a scratched eye?

Most scratches are not too serious but do require proper medical treatment in order to heal.

doctor checking for scratched eye

Ask Doctor Sears advises contacting your child’s eye doctor or pediatrician within four to six hours of the incident to determine whether your child should be examined.

Typically, your child’s doctor will use a special type of dye to check for a scratch in the cornea. Called fluorescein, this dye illuminates the scratch under black light.

Antibiotic eye drops are prescribed for most superficial abrasions, while antibiotic ointment and steroid eye drops are often used to treat deeper scratches. All these treatment options work to reduce inflammation and chance of scarring.

What can you do to help your child’s eye heal quickly?

parent administering eye drops to childThere are also a number of things you should not do in the case of an eye scratch for your child’s eye safety, named by Eye Smart:

  • Do not allow your child to rub their eye. This can make the abrasion worse.
  • Do not touch the eye with anything. You will not be able to remove the foreign object with your fingers or cotton swabs.
  • If your child wears contacts, have them remove their lenses. Wearing contacts can slow the healing process and cause other issues. Check with your child’s doctor to determine when they are able to wear contacts again.

As sunlight can cause discomfort to your child’s eye while it is healing, sunglasses should be worn outdoors.


How can you prevent a scratched eye?

Of course, the best way to deal with a scratched eye is to avoid an injury in the first place by promoting children’s eye safety.

Durable sunglasses, such as our Real Kids Shades, can provide protection against accidental scratches to the eyes and can block out light if eyes are sensitive to sunlight after the injury.