A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the cornea. The cornea is the clear, front surface of the eye. It is located directly in front of the colored part of the eye.

The cornea has several layers that help protect the eye.

The Cornea
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Most corneal abrasions happen as a result of:

  • Dust, dirt, sand, wood slivers, or metal shavings hitting the eye
  • Vigorously rubbing the eye, especially when something is in it
  • A fingernail, tree branch, or other object scratching the eye
  • Wearing contact lenses , especially if the lenses are worn longer than directed or not cleaned properly
  • Not protecting the eyes during surgery—the cornea can dry out if your eyes are not fully shut during surgery
  • Certain eye disorders