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Eye - foreign object in

Foreign body; Particle in the eye

Information

The eye will often flush out small objects, like eyelashes and sand, through blinking and tearing. DO NOT rub the eye if there is something in it. Wash your hands before examining the eye.

Examine the eye in a well-lighted area. To find the object, look up and down, then from side to side.

  • If you can't find the object, grasp the lower eyelid and gently pull down on it to look inside the lower eyelid. To look inside the upper lid, you can place a cotton-tipped swab on the outside of the upper lid and gently fold the lid over the cotton swab.
  • If the object is on an eyelid, try to gently flush it out with water or eye drops. If that does not work, try touching a second cotton-tipped swab to the object to remove it.
  • If the object is on the white of the eye, try gently rinsing the eye with water or eye drops. Or, you can GENTLY touch a cotton swap to the object to try to remove it. If the object is on the colored part of the eye, DO NOT attempt to remove it. Your eye may still feel scratchy or uncomfortable after removing an eyelashes or other tiny object. This should go away within a day or two. If you continue to have discomfort or blurred vision, get medical help.

Contact your health care provider and DO NOT treat yourself if:

  • You have a lot of eye pain or sensitivity to light.
  • Your vision is decreased.
  • You have red or painful eyes.
  • You have flaking, discharge, or a sore on your eye or eyelid.
  • You have had trauma to your eye, or you have a bulging eye or a drooping eyelid.
  • Your dry eyes do not get better with self-care measures within a few days.

If you have been hammering, grinding, or could have come in contact with metal fragments, DO NOT attempt any removal. Go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

References

Crouch ER, Crouch ER, Grant TR. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 17.

Engel K, Page M, Montezuma S, Cameron JD. Retinoblastoma. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 3;chap 6.

Knoop KJ, Dennis WR. Ophthalmologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 62.

Thomas SH, Goodloe JM. Foreign bodies. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2018:chap 53.

    • Eye

      Eye - illustration

      The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

      Eye

      illustration

    • Eyelid eversion

      Eyelid eversion - illustration

      To help find an object that is in the eye, grasp the lower eyelid and gently pull down on it to look under the lower eyelid. To look under the upper lid, place a cotton-tipped swab on the outside of the upper lid and gently flip the lid over the cotton swab.

      Eyelid eversion

      illustration

    • Foreign objects in eye

      Foreign objects in eye - illustration

      Foreign objects in the eye usually are flushed out through the natural blinking and tearing action of the eye. If the foreign body can be seen on the inner surface of either the lower or upper lid, try to gently flush it out with water or use a cotton-tipped swab to invert the eyelid and inspect the underside. Seek medical attention if the foreign body cannot be removed, or if there is still discomfort or blurred vision after removal.

      Foreign objects in eye

      illustration

      • Eye

        Eye - illustration

        The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

        Eye

        illustration

      • Eyelid eversion

        Eyelid eversion - illustration

        To help find an object that is in the eye, grasp the lower eyelid and gently pull down on it to look under the lower eyelid. To look under the upper lid, place a cotton-tipped swab on the outside of the upper lid and gently flip the lid over the cotton swab.

        Eyelid eversion

        illustration

      • Foreign objects in eye

        Foreign objects in eye - illustration

        Foreign objects in the eye usually are flushed out through the natural blinking and tearing action of the eye. If the foreign body can be seen on the inner surface of either the lower or upper lid, try to gently flush it out with water or use a cotton-tipped swab to invert the eyelid and inspect the underside. Seek medical attention if the foreign body cannot be removed, or if there is still discomfort or blurred vision after removal.

        Foreign objects in eye

        illustration

      Tests for Eye - foreign object in

       

      Review Date: 12/2/2017

      Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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