The definition of a foreign object in the eye is objects outside the body that penetrate the eye and can cause swelling, pain, and vision problems. Foreign objects can range from dust to glass shards and can really bother or hurt a person on impact. Foreign objects usually affect and irritate the cornea of the eye, which is the eye’s initial protective covering. Light travels to the eye through the cornea.
A foreign object stuck in your eye can be very serious if not removed quickly and as non-invasively as possible. Pressure or discomfort can turn into pain and bleeding if a medical professional does not remove the object. For less serious cases, like dust or dirt entering the eye with no actual cut or puncturing, you may notice a great deal of blinking as well as sneezing, itching or a slight ache in the eyes when looking at light.
The most common foreign objects in the eyes are eyelashes, dried mucus, sawdust, dirt, sand, cosmetics, contact lenses, metal particles, and glass shards.
What to Do
Should you experience a foreign object in your eye, be sure to stop moving your eye and irritating it further. Using a clean cloth or gauze, bandage your eye and soothe the pain with warm water. Cover your other eye, as this will actually prevent you being tempted to move your injured one. Try not to rub your eyes too hard and if you have contact lenses in that have also been pierced, leave them there and do not touch your eye with your fingers. Wash your hands immediately in case you do end up touching your eyes.
Get a friend or loved one or someone around you to use a bright light to examine the eye so you’ll have a visual concept of the severity.
When to See a Doctor
It’s best to be pragmatic and go to the doctor to have them remove the object if it is something sharp like metal or glass. They will use anesthetic to numb the eye, so it will be less painful with a professional doing it instead of you at home without anesthetic.
At-Home Treatment: Upper and Lower Eye Lid
If you ultimately decide to treat the issue at home, observe the following:
For foreign objects affecting the upper eyelid, stick the side of your face with the penetrated eye in a shallow basin of water. Under water, open and close your eye. If the pain is manageable, carefully lift your eyelid and stretch the lid to loosen the object.
For foreign objects affecting the lower eyelid, pull the eyelid down to try to examine and see underneath it. Do this with freshly washed, sterile hands. Use a small cotton swab to try to remove the object; if this is unsuccessful, consider rinsing the eye in a basin of cold water.
At-Home Treatment: Smaller Particles in the Eye
For small particles such as sand or dirt, you do not need to go to the doctor, and you should only experience mild discomfort at worst. Your eyes will be swollen and irritated. Try different techniques such as dabbing a wet cloth gently on the eyes and then flushing the eye in a basin of water and blinking rapidly.
Avoid Foreign Objects Getting Stuck in Your Eyes
Getting foreign objects stuck in your eye can really hurt and, if left untreated, can really affect your vision and eye’s irritability. Wearing sunglasses, glasses, and goggles in appropriate scenarios with any flying or loose objects, excessive dust, or ice will help prevent foreign objects from entering the eye.
If you work with equipment such as saws and lawn mowers, be sure to also protect your eyes and wash them out thoroughly during breaks or after your work day is finished to ensure your eyes are clean, comfortable and free of any irritating particles.
Additional Eye Questions
If you have more questions about what to do when it comes to foreign objects in your eyes, contact an eye professional such as the professionals at Advanced Eye Medical. They’re experts who are passionate about eyes and are ready to help you. Learn more about Advanced Eye Medical, which has been around for over 30 years, by following Dr. Faris Ghosheh on Twitter today.