Treating Foreign Bodies in the Eye

Whether it is an eyelash or a metal shard, objects in the eye are painful. The eye is carefully crafted to wash out small foreign objects by naturally blinking and secreting "tears" when irritation occurs. Larger objects or embedded foreign material are a different story, requiring emergency ophthalmological care.Schedule an Appointment Symptoms
  • Scratchy sensation in the eye
  • Pain with blinking
  • Visual problems
Who is at risk?

Children frequently complain of objects in the eye, from sand to pencil shards. Anyone working with metal or chemicals is also at high risk for an eye injury. Almost everyone has experienced a foreign body in the eye at one time.

Treatment

Treatment will vary from antibiotic drops or ointment to ophthalmologic surgery. A physician may choose to dilate the eye, enlarge the pupil, to better see the retina. A blue light might be used to detect scratches in the eye in the case of foreign objects. Safety goggles or shields should always be employed to protect the eyes when possible. Foreign bodies should be removed immediately to prevent further damage to the outer surface of the eye.

Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?

Any object that has penetrated beyond the superficial layer of the eyeball has caused bleeding from the eye or cuts to the eyelid needs emergency medical attention. Children complaining of eye pain or scratchiness should be evaluated by a physician. Anyone working with metal on metal (e.g. hammering a nail) should seek medical attention if eye pain turns up. Most routine eye foreign bodies such as a fleck of dirt or rust can be evaluated and treated in an urgent care center.

Treatment for foreign objects in the eye is available now at eMedical Urgent Care in Middletown and Berkeley Heights, NJ.

For more information on foreign bodies in the eye, see the following websites:

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