Corneal scrape

A procedure to collect cells from the surface of your eye

A corneal scrape, sometimes called a corneal culture, is used to diagnose a bacterial or fungal infection in your eye

Why do the cornea need to be investigated?

An infection of your cornea — the clear lens on the surface of your eye — can be a painful and sometimes serious condition.

If you've had an eye injury or wear contact lenses, you might be more at risk for infections. A corneal scrape involves taking a sample of cells from your cornea to diagnose potential problems.

Need to know

  • What happens during the procedure? icon plus

    You may have a corneal scrape if you have an ulcer on your eye or your consultant suspects you may have an infection such as acanthamoeba keratitis.

    Your consultant will use anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eye for the procedure. You'll sit comfortably in front of a slit lamp — the same instrument used to for normal eye examinations. Your consultant will use a specialised microscope to guide them as they take a small sample of cells from your cornea using a sterile needle or tiny surgical instrument.

    Taking the sample only takes a few moments, and you'll be asked to keep your eyes wide open while it's done.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. They'll let you know if there is anything specific you need to do to prepare.

    If you normally wear contact lenses, you'll usually need to wear glasses before the procedure and until your eye heals or the infection clears up.
  • After the procedure icon plus

    You should be able to go home right after the sample has been taken. The procedure itself shouldn't be painful, but your eyes may feel a bit sore or irritated afterwards.

    The sample of cells taken from your cornea will be sent to a lab and analysed. Your consultant will review the results and let you know next steps for treatment or additional tests.

    If you need to use antibacterial eye drops, your consultant will explain how often you should apply these. They'll also let you know what else you can do to relieve any painful or irritating symptoms.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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