Eye is one of the most important sensory organ that helps us to see everything around us. The irritation of eye or eye diseases interferes with vision. Occasionally small tiny particle known as foreign body sticks to the outer surface of the eye. The white section of eye that is exposed to atmosphere is known as conjunctiva and middle circular black portion is known as cornea. The foreign body stuck to conjunctiva or cornea causes irritation and sensation of object stuck to the eye. The particles stuck to conjunctiva or cornea also causes secretion of tears. Such article or foreign body needs to be removed. Corneal foreign body is one of the common cause of eye injury.1 Most corneal foreign body are superficial and causes no complication once it is removed.
However, sometimes it becomes technically difficult to remove the foreign body out of the eye. If foreign body sensation continues after conservative method then one must consult ophthalmologist or got to ER. Do not use any sharp equipment to remove foreign body or particle yourself. One must be very much careful not to hurt your eye. We will know about 6 ways to get something out of the eye without hurting or scratching the cornea of the eye and without ruining the normal condition of our eye.
Types of Foreign Particles That May Enter Your Eyes
Usually foreign particles which may accidentally get in to our eyes may include dust particles, tiny particles of glass, metal pieces or chemicals. Sometimes tiny insects or flies also get trapped in the eye, especially while riding two wheelers during the night or dark. Occasionally hair falls into eyes and does not get washed out by tears.2 It is always essential to be very much cautious about not hurting or scratching the cornea while rubbing the eye or trying to remove the foreign body. Below are few of the safety warnings to know before getting something out of your eyes.
What Not To Do When One Feels Foreign Body Sensation In Eye?
As a precaution you should avoid following harmful action-
- No Eye Rubbing- Do not rub your eye with force if you feel foreign body sensation.
- No Sharp Instrument- Do not use sharp object to remove foreign body
- No One But Ophthalmologist- Do not allow anyone else but ophthalmologist to remove foreign body.
- Protect Cornea- Corneal ulcer is difficult to treat. Thus do not scratch or rub corneal foreign body. Rusted metal particle can cause bacterial infection of cornea.3 In such cases immediate antibiotics treatment is needed.
- Protect Your Eye- If dust or particle of glass, metal or any chemical get inside your eyes, do not try to remove it by self; rather tape your eyes with a paper cup and reach a doctor’s office.
- Wash Your Hand Frequently- Keep a note that your hands are very much clean while you are trying to remove something out of your eyes, so as to keep away from eye infection.
Six Ways to Get Something Out Of The Eye:
It is essential for you to clean your hands properly before trying to inspect your eyes or try to remove the foreign object from your eyes. Frequent hand washing would prevent you from getting any unwanted eye infection. Now, also be very much sure that you are not rubbing your eyes which can scratch the cornea. One more thing to remember is not to poke anything sharp inside your eyes which can cause damage to your eyes.
Blow Air Over Outer Surface Of The Eye- Wash your Hands and Inspect your Eyes for the Foreign Object:
Once you have known about these safety tips try to inspect your eye in mirror and try to find out the location of the foreign particle inside the eye. Check your upper and lower eyelids, check outer surface of cornea or conjunctiva and try to locate site of the foreign object. Once you have known the location, try to find out what kind of object is located over cornea or conjunctiva. You can take help of someone nearby and ask him to blow the air over your eye few times. After few attempts, if you do not feel foreign body sensation then you may have success in removal of foreign body.
Flush Your Eyes with Clean Water to Get Something Out Of Your Eye:
Usually dirt particles come out of their own by getting tears and being washed out from the eyes. However, if tears fail to remove foreign body from your eye, then flush clean water in to your eyes. The clean water is flushed over the eye by using syringe or glass of water. The water from syringe is slowly injected into eye while keeping the needle tip close to the eye.4 Similarly, water in glass is slowly poured over the eye. Once you have flushed enough water into your eyes, take clean towel and pat dry your eyes. Once the foreign body is dislodged you will feel less irritation in eye. The loss of foreign body sensation suggests you have succeeded in removing foreign body.
Move Your Eyelids Around Slowly While Trying To Get Something Out Of Your Eye:
Following eye wash if you feel the presence of foreign body then roll your eyeball around. Particle will fall if it is loosely attached to cornea or conjunctiva. You can roll over your upper eyelid and lower eyelid so as to discharge particle from the surface of conjunctiva. You can ask someone to blow air in your eye
Remove the Foreign Object from your Eye with Wet Cotton Swab:
This procedure may help once you locate the position of foreign body over cornea or conjunctiva. The wet cotton swab is used to remove the particles. The tip of cotton swab is used to push the particle out of the eye. The procedure should be tried 3 or 4 times. If position of foreign body is not changed then do not continue any further, you should consult ophthalmologist.
Submerge Eye In Clean Water-
Use sterile or distilled water from grocery store or pharmacy for this procedure. Fill the glass with distilled or sterile water. Make sure the rim of glass is not sharp or elevated. Rim should be same level as the surface of water when glass is completely filled. Submerge the eye ball that has a feeling of presence of foreign body. Open and close eye lids few time. Repeat the procedure 3 to 4 times. If you feel the symptoms of eye ball irritation is gone then you have succeeded in removal of foreign body.
Consult Specialist To Remove Foreign Body From Your Eye-
In case everything fails and none of the above mentioned procedures helped to remove foreign body then either go to ER or consult ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologist will use local anesthesia to make sure eye remains pain free during procedure. Then he will locate the foreign body with microscope. Once the location of foreign body is identified then he will use appropriate instrument to remove foreign body.5
When Should You See An Ophthalmologist?
- Intense Pain- If there is intense and deep eye pain, you need to meet doctor for getting the foreign object out of your eyes.
- Blurred Vision– If you are seeing blurred vision then do not try any of the above procedure. See ophthalmologist immediately.
- Failed Above Procedures- When foreign body sensation continues after you have tried all the above method to flush out foreign body and If the object does not come out even after 30 minutes of flushing water in to your eyes you must see specialist.
- Red Eye- If your eyes look red suggesting eye infection like conjunctivitis then you should see ophthalmologist immediately.
- Photophobia or Sensitivity to Light- If you feel you cannot tolerate bright light then you should either visit ER or see ophthalmologist.
- Chemical Spilled In Eye- If the foreign body sensation is triggered following spilling of chemical in your eye then you must see ophthalmologist.
The procedure which are described above are helpful if you are on vacation and travelling in another state. If you can approach your regular doctor, then you should consult your primary care physician instead trying above procedures.
Corneal Foreign Body
Anthony J. Camodeca; Eric P. Anderson., Last Update: January 10, 2019.
An unusual foreign body in the eye
Clinical characteristics of corneal foreign bodies and their associated culture results.
How to irrigate the eye
Corneal foreign body removal and treatment.