Irritation and pain in the eye can be a result of a foreign body. A foreign body can be anything from dirt and sand to sawdust or any other object that has entered the eye. Even an eyelash can be considered a foreign body.

In some cases, all you’ll need to do is rinse the eye to remove the foreign body. Your tear ducts will try to remove the foreign body, too, with the creation of excess tears.

Issues arise when you cannot remove the body on your own. If a foreign body remains in the eye for more than a few hours, the pain and irritation will intensify. With the eye being a sensitive and delicate area, it’s essential to seek medical help and cease self-removal effort if you reach this point.

Seeking Help to Remove the Foreign Body

There are two courses of action to take: seek help from an eye doctor, or go to the emergency room. The emergency room is advised when the pain is very intense. If the pain is not severe, a regular eye doctor will suffice.

What to Expect at the Eye Doctor

The eye doctor will conduct a general exam to try and determine what the foreign body is. If it’s a small foreign body, such as a piece of sawdust, the doctor may provide an anesthetic eye drop that will numb the eye and reduce pain before trying to remove the foreign body.

There are times when the foreign body is in a perfect position, and all that’s needed is a simple eye wash that will flush out the foreign body.

If unsuccessful, a small metal instrument will be used to remove the object from the eye. The upper eyelid is a common place for foreign bodies to move, and the eyelid will need to be lifted to remove the thing.

You’ll know if something is underneath the upper eyelid by feeling a scratching sensation or pain in the area.

The doctor will look for any scratches on the outer layer of the cornea, too.

Your eye will feel uncomfortable after the procedure as the healing process begins. Injury can occur, which will result in:

  • Film accumulation over the eye lens
  • Bleeding
  • Vision trouble or impairment
  • Pupil size changes

Objects may also be deep in the eye, which will result in a visit to an ophthalmologist. Damage and infection can occur if particular objects are not removed from the eye. Your doctor will recommend immediate medical care if particular objects threaten the health of the eye.

Removing Foreign Bodies From the Eye on Your Own

You can carefully try to remove a foreign body from the eye while you’re waiting to go to your doctor’s appointment. If you don’t seek treatment and the foreign object penetrates the eye’s outer layer, you can damage your retina or suffer from a loss of vision in severe cases.

Four methods to remove these foreign objects include:

1.      Particles Under the Lower Eyelid

Particles that make their way under the lower eyelid can be removed, in some cases, by:

  • Depressing the skin above the check bone to pull out the lower eyelid.
  • Using a cotton swab to touch the particle.

If this doesn’t work to remove the particle, hold the eyelid out and pour water into the eye to flush the particle out of the eye.

2.      Particles Under the Upper Eyelid

Most particles will move to the upper eyelid – that’s the most common place where you can’t see the particle. You’ll want to:

  • Submerge your eye in water, and open and close the eye several times.
  • Pull the eyelid over the bottom eyelid.

These are your two main options.

3.      Sand or Dirt in the Eye

Dirt, sand, or other little particles may be removed from the eye by:

  • Cleaning around the eye with a washcloth.
  • Rinsing the eye with water (submerge it in water and look side-to-side).
  • Using a cup to pour water into the eye while tilting the head backwards.

You can also try to dab the particle with a cotton ball to see if it sticks to the cotton ball.

4.      Particles in the Corner of the Eye

Particles stuck in the corner of the eye may be rinsed out with water, but this doesn’t always work. In this case, you’ll want to use a moistened cotton swab and dab the particle in an attempt to remove it.

Some people will use Q-tips, too.

If you’ve tried everything and you can’t seem to get the foreign body out of your eye, it’s time to seek medical help. Particles that remain in the eye can lead to severe eye damage or infection in some cases. In the event that the foreign body is larger in size, such as glass or metal, seek immediate medical attention.

How is a foreign body removed from the eye?

Particles stuck in the corner of the eye may be rinsed out with water, but this doesn’t always work. In this case, you’ll want to use a moistened cotton swab and dab the particle in an attempt to remove it.

Can optometrist remove foreign bodies?

As long as it hasn’t penetrated, an optometrist or ophthalmologist can remove it.

What happens if something stays in your eye?

it can damage the cornea. This is called “corneal abrasion” or “corneal erosion.”

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