Patchy evidence for corneal abrasions

Abrasion of the corneal epithelium is a common eye problem. A traditional treatment is the prescription of an ocular antibiotic and occlusion of the eye while the cornea heals.

Some studies have suggested that putting a patch over the eye has little effect. A Cochrane review has therefore assessed the trials.

The reviewers found 11 randomised trials involving 1014 patients. Three trials excluded patients whose corneal abrasions were the result of foreign bodies.

Eye drops were used in all the trials. The patients who were randomised to occlude the affected eye kept it covered for 24 hours.

Seven studies reported the outcomes after 24 hours. While the individual studies found that wearing an eye patch made no difference to healing, pooling the results showed that fewer patients healed with a patch. 

There was no difference between the groups after two and three days.

In four trials patients experienced less pain