Cornea Scratches Don't Need Eye Patches

In fact, the 'pirate' look may impede healing, study finds

WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Eye patches aren't necessary in the treatment of simple corneal abrasions, a new review of the data shows. In fact, the use of eye patches initially slows healing and does not reduce pain, the review authors concluded.

"The abrasions on the eye normally don't affect vision too much, so it is pointless rendering a patient acutely monocular [one-eyed] if there is no good reason to do so," researcher Dr. Angus Turner , of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in East Melbourne, Australia, said in a prepared statement.

His team conducted a review of 11 previous studies on the subject, including over 1,000 patients.

The cornea is the clear outer layer of the front of the eye, and corneal abrasions are among the most common kinds of eye injuries. While they're usually quick to heal, they are painful. In the past, nearly all corneal abrasions were treated by placing a patch over the injured eye for a day or two. It was believed that the patch kept out infection and kept the eye and lids still in order to allow the cornea to heal.

Most ophthalmologists no longer use eye patches for minor corneal injuries, but some general practitioners and emergency department doctors may still do so, Turner noted.

The review found that corneal abrasion patients who'd been treated without the use of an eye patch had faster healing times on the first day of treatment and did not report any significant differences in pain levels than patients with patches.

The review appears in The Cochrane Library, published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about corneal abrasions.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Updated on April 19, 2006

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