Purpose: Fingernail-induced corneal abrasions are one of the most common eye injuries that present to the emergency department, and yet there is little literature available to offer guidelines for management. We analyzed the treatment used in cases of fingernail-induced corneal abrasions that presented to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Emergency Department and studied its relationship to the development of complications such as recurrent erosion syndrome and infection.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 99 patients who presented to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Emergency Department with fingernail-induced corneal abrasions between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. We followed the patients for 12 months and documented demographics, nature of the injury, treatment, and complications.
Results: The average age was 29.4 (range, 2–89) years. Forty-four percent (n = 44) were female and 56% (n = 55) were male. Of the 99 subjects, 39 had a full 12 month follow-up, and 7 developed a complication from the injury. Compared with the 32 subjects without complications, there was no difference in age or gender. However, there was a significant difference in that adults scratched by another adult were more highly represented in the group with complications (43%, n = 3/7 vs. 3%, n = 1/32; P = 0.0017). There was no significant difference in outcome by treatment used.
Conclusions: This is the largest fingernail-induced corneal abrasion study completed to date. Patients are at risk of developing complications, but there is scant evidenced-based literature available for treating this common injury. Prospective trials should be performed to better optimize and standardize treatments.