Foreign Bodies

When a foreign object ends up in the eye, it can be very uncomfortable. Even something as small as a grain of sand can cause tremendous irritation.

Types of Foreign Objects

There are two categories of foreign objects, they are as follows:

  • Superficial foreign objects - such as a grain of sand, dust or an eyelash
  • Penetrating foreign objects - objects the pierce the outer layer of the eye and enter the eye

Superficial foreign objects are typically not serious whereas penetrating foreign objects are very serious and need immediate medical attention.

Removal of a Foreign Object from the Eye

Sometimes the foreign object can be dislodged by blinking rapidly or flushing the eye area with water. If that does not work, you may need medical assistance. Visit the doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Eye is bulging

The doctor will examine the eye under a bright light. As the doctor pulls the upper and lower lids away from the eye, you will be asked to look up, down and from side to side, enabling the doctor to visualize the object. If the irritant is on the surface of the eye, the doctor will rinse the eye with saline solution, usually at the outer corner of the eye. If the object is on the inside of one of the eyelids, the doctor may use a sterile swab to gently remove it.

There are certain procedures that should not be done if there is a foreign object in the eye, they include the following:

  • Do not rub the eye
  • Do not touch the eye with a cotton swab
  • Do not remove an object that is embedded in the eye
  • Do not remove an object that makes it difficult to close the eye


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