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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-01-11, 09:38 PM   #1
Jim from Boston
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Corneal abrasion

As a public service announcement to my fellow cyclists, today I suffered a corneal abrasion. I did an 18 mile commute this morning into a moderate headwind but otherwise uneventful. I wear eyeglasses and had no problems with anything blowing into my eyes. About one half hour after arriving at work, and just sitting quietly at a meeting, my eye felt like it had a particle in it. I saw no foreign material in the eyelid, nor did anyone else, and it was not relieved at an eyewash station. I was lucky enough to get an appointment with an eye specialist at about an hour after the onset, and he did identify some black particles, and diagnosed the abrasion. From an online medical textbook:

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Originally Posted by Up-to-Date.com
Often patients are too uncomfortable to work, drive, or read, and the pain frequently precludes sleep. Multiple attempts by the patient to "wash out" the eye can further disrupt the epithelial surface….Patients with a foreign body may or may not recall an episode with material falling or flying into the eye since, depending upon the type and size of the foreign body, symptoms may not be immediate, or they may be immediate, then abate for awhile, then recur….Patients may have had severe pain for several hours by the time they seek care. They are visibly uncomfortable, pacing or rocking or rubbing the eye, and they can be disruptive to a waiting room. During the initial triage period, they should be offered a darkened room in which to wait, asked to wait quietly with the eyes closed, and encouraged not to rub the eye…

In theory, a pressure patch promotes epithelial proliferation and migration by keeping the lid lowered and stationary over the epithelial defect; such pressure is also thought to relieve pain….Thus, the lack of proven benefit with patching, the possibility of improper patching, and potential patient discomfort and inconvenience suggest that it is reasonable to treat corneal abrasions without an eye patch.

Most corneal abrasions heal regardless of therapy in 24 to 72 hours. Vision should return to normal in that time,
My eye doctor claimed 24 to 48 hours to recovery, and my colleague (female), who asked me if I poked myself with an eyeliner wand, claimed she has gotten better overnight.

I wasn't able to work today as it was difficult even to just keep the uninvolved eye open because that irritated the affected eye. The eye doctor didn't think a patch would be useful, though I used an improvised one for a while until I realized it was probably further abrading the cornea. I was given an antibiotic ointment and I've spent most of my day with my eyes closed. I took Alleve for the pain, and have some heavy-duty analgesics available if I need them to sleep tonight. Pain management to get over the initial phase is discussed in that article.

It's now about 15 hours after the onset of symptoms. I note improvement, and only now can keep my unaffected eye open long enough to work at the computer. I'm pretty nearsighted, and unfortunately the better eye is the involved one. The prognosis of quick improvement has been an encouraging thought to get over this. So that's what I learned about corneal abrasions, FYI.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-02-11 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 06-01-11, 09:42 PM   #2
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I got corneal abrasions a couple of times when I used to wear contacts. Nothing like feeling someone took a piece of sandpaper to your eye - I hope you feel better soon. If I remember, it took a couple of days for the scratchiness to go away.
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Old 06-02-11, 04:32 AM   #3
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I got a corneal ulcer once. I have no idea what cause it but it scared me witless. I was at college and tried to see a doctor at the college surgery but , being London, I lived in the wrong postcode so they refused to see me. I had to track down and register with a non-college surgery then be forwarded to a specialist eye clinic.

They gave me some drops which helped cure it after a few days.

I wouldn't even try to wear contacts now and Im afraid that laser eye surgery would not heal up well so Im stuck with prescription glasses.
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Old 06-02-11, 08:41 PM   #4
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I had that once about 40 years ago. I scratched myself swinging around a toy sword, as I recall. I could actually see the scratch. It healed in a day or so. I got good advice from my aunt, who knew a lot about eyes because her husband was blind.
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Old 06-02-11, 09:45 PM   #5
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<--- Occupational First-Aid attendant (8 years) & licensed Emergency Medical Examiner (4 years).
Even minor eye injuries can be excruciating. Dim the lights, pop an Advil and try a cold compress on the affected eye. That combo should provide you some relief. Definitely don't rub the affected eye.
Get some rest, heal up and get back out on the road.

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Old 06-02-11, 09:47 PM   #6
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Jim, hope you get better quickly. Eye problems can be pretty scary.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:03 PM   #7
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Done this before but not from cycling. I wear some pretty good safety rated cycling glasses because its definitely no fun. I think the last time I did it was from dust or metal shavings kicked up by a bus I had the misfortune of walking by as it left the stop.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:10 PM   #8
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Got this once before I wore cycling glasses whenever I got on the bike. Lesson learned. From experience, I'd say their 1-2 days before symptoms clear up entirely is accurate.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:24 PM   #9
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Had my eye grind/deburr to remove 3 rust ring from one eye and one on the other. The night before was a painful night of eye pain suffering. This happen 15 years ago. Work related and not from cycling, although it's possible to get rust ring from cycling. After the grind, my eye hurted more than before. Two hours later, my vision were totally blurry. It was scary as I thought I lost my vision but my eye doctor assured me it would be ok and to keep the patch on the eye for 24 hours. The next day they remove the patch and did I ever felt good again.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:35 PM   #10
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Jim, Sorry to hear you're suffering. I wear clear wrap around safety glasses- they actually don't look as dorky as they sound- on pretty much every ride. Simply riding headlong into wind without debris, dust or particles on a daily basis can cause eye issues never mind when there's a ton of pollen in the air or you get something else in there.

I shouldn't even say this--especially since you posted this in commuting not A&S--- but I keep imagining there are anti-safety glasses people out there, like the "helmets won't save your life" crowd who'll condemn me for even suggesting wearing such things. I can hear them now,"I've ridden every day of my life and never had my eye poked out or gotten anything in it." Or "I'm just as likely to get something in my eye walking down the street as I am on a bike!" Well, I guess, but I like having eye protection on my rides.

A few years ago I went for an eye exam and the doctor said my eyes showed evidence of wear like people who do a lot of sailing or are outside a lot- not even knowing I was a cyclist- it got me wearing the glasses pretty regularly. I mean once you've been commuting for 40 years or more by bike you start thinking about the long term wear and tear of riding a bike every day- as good as it is for the body it takes a toll if you're not careful.

Heal well.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:04 AM   #11
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I had one last week. Was chainsawing down some trees and my dumbass didn't have my safety glasses on. It happened about 1100hrs and instead of going to the ER just to get referred to my eye Doc, I was able to get an appointment with him at 1545hrs. My vision was way blurry, but no real pain. The Doc saw 4 good scratches and gave me a pain drop in the office, which hurt my eye more than it did before I got the drop. He had a no prescription contact lenses that he said was designed to be an eye band aide. I had never heard of it before but it felt better once it was on. Wore it for 72 hours and used antibiotic drops, no issues what so ever, no real pain with mine. I wonder if the Lasik surgery I had back in 2006 had anything to do with it, post scratch vision is 20/13 R eye and 20/15 L eye no change or lasting damage. Hope yours heals quick and pain free like mine did.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:34 AM   #12
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I've had this happen twice.

The first time was when being at a waterpark on a windy day. Apparently a piece of sand must have blown into my eye at some point.

The second time was riding on my motorcycle. I was in town (low speed), had a full face helmet and had sunglasses on underneath. Somehow a piece of something managed to get in and scratch my eye. I don't know what more I could have done to prevent it in this situation. Sometimes things just happen.

Hurts, but thankfully once you start using the medication the pain goes away within a couple of days.
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