Patching corneal abrasions does not reduce pain or improve healing rates on the first day post-injury, according to a study review.
Two reviewers examined the results from 11 randomized controlled trials of 1,014 patients who had experienced a simple, uninfected corneal abrasion. In addition to patches, antibiotic drops and ointments were used in some studies.
The reviewers found that patients whose corneal abrasions were not patched experienced faster healing on the first day of treatment. These patients also did not report any differences in pain than patients whose corneal abrasions were patched. The reviewers did not determine any significant differences in healing or pain on days two and three of treatment.
In essentially all cases of corneal abrasions, a meta-analyis shows that patching has no value over not patching, says optometrist Joseph Shovlin of Scranton, Pa. This review is another piece of evidence.
In addition to this review, the literature is replete with potential pitfalls in patching corneal abrasions, Dr. Shovlin says. Prophylaxis is possible when corneal abrasions are not patched, and NSAIDs can help improve discomfort and reflex tearing, which should also aid in healing.
Turner A, Rabiu M. Patching for corneal abrasion. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD004764.