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Foreign Body In The Eye : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment- Antibiotic Eye Drops, Ointment

A foreign body in the eye can be a small object, which enters the eye or something which gets trapped beneath the eyelids or stick to eyes without essentially entering the eye, such as an eyelash. Foreign body may also be a sharp object, which penetrates the outer layer and enters into the eye. While any foreign body which is trapped under the eyelids, such as an eyelash or dirt, may not warrant a hospital visit, but any object which has penetrated the outer layer of the eye and has entered the eye requires immediate medical attention.

Foreign Body In The Eye

Causes of Foreign Body in the Eye

Almost every individual faces the problem of having a foreign body in the eye at some point in life. Common foreign bodies in the eyes are a small bit of sand, grit, dust, and even an eyelash. This occurs when something is blown into the eye, commonly occurring on a windy day, or when something falls into the eyes when looking upwards.

Foreign bodies actually entering the eye are not so common. They usually occur when an individual is hammering at something such as metal or wood, without wearing proper eye protection, leading to a small chip flying off and entering into the eye. This is a serious injury and requires immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Foreign Body in the Eye

  • Pain in the eye.
  • Burning, tearing, irritation and redness of the eye.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Gritty sensation in the eye.
  • Scratching sensation in the eye.
  • There may be bleeding into the white region of the eye (conjunctival hemorrhage/ subconjunctival hemorrhage).
  • Symptoms indicating serious injury are: Blood film over the iris and behind the cornea, persistent feeling of presence of foreign body even after its removal, visual loss/impairment, bleeding from the eye or around the eye, and clear or bloody discharge from the eye.

Treatment for Foreign Body in the Eye

  • The eye should be rinsed with a saline solution or normal water.
  • If the foreign body is visible, such dirt or eyelash, patient can try to remove it gently, using the tip of a tissue or a cotton swab, but make sure not to scrape the cornea as this can cause further damage.
  • If you continue to feel the presence of a foreign body, even after its removal, then seek medical attention immediately.
  • If the foreign body has penetrated your eye, then seek medical attention immediately.
  • The eye may appear red and watery after the removal of the foreign body.
  • Do not rub the affected eye or put any pressure on it.
  • Antibiotic eye drops/ointment is prescribed for the corneal abrasions.
  • Surgery is required if the foreign object has penetrated the eyeball and ruptured it.
  • Eye protection such as helmet or goggles/safety glasses should be worn when working in an environment where there is a risk of debris flying.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology – Eye Safety and First Aid
  2. Mayo Clinic – Eye Injuries: First Aid
  3. MedlinePlus – Eye Injuries
  4. WebMD – Eye Injuries

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 11, 2023

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