The presence of a foreign body within the eye is the result of contact, most often accidental, made with sand, dust, insects, splinters, or particles of different materials. This contact can take place outdoors, during domestic work or at the workplace.
When a foreign object enters the eye, it is most likely to affect the cornea (the clear layer that covers the front surface of the eye) of the conjunctiva (the white portion of the eye). It can cause scratches or cuts on the cornea which in turn may infect or damage vision.
If the object has penetrated beyond the superficial layers of the surface of the eye, seeking medical care is vital in order to successfully remove the object without any complications and ease symptoms.
What are the symptoms associated with a foreign body in the eye?
A foreign object within the eye may present symptoms such as:
- Discomfort: feeling the presence of something irritating in the eye
- Burning sensation
- A need to scratch the eye
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Excessive blinking
- Watery eye
- Blurry vision
Foreign objects that penetrate the eye are rare though they do occur. They are called intraocular objects and additional symptoms may even include discharge of fluid or blood from the eye. Pursuing treatment with a physician is advised in order to undergo an eye examination and determine the most appropriate form of treatment.
What to do in case a foreign body is present in the eye
In cases involving a foreign object in the eye, it is first advisable to wash hands and then inspect the eye in front of a mirror (or get help from someone) to look for any foreign body. Removing it with the corner of a handkerchief or sterile gauze can be done if the object is visible and easy to get rid of.
In any case, washing the eyes with running water or a saline solution is advised. If the foreign body has penetrated the eye or an individual experiences any discomfort in the eye, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment in order to avoid further injury to the eye or possible infection. Bandaging the eye with a clean cloth is advised to help prevent any movement until medical care is sought out.
What not to do if a foreign body is present in the eye
If a foreign object has penetrated the eye, it is essential to seek immediate medical care in order to avoid infection and possible vision problems. Instructions on what not to do go as follows:
- Do not rub the eye with hands
- Do not use tweezers, cotton swabs, or other tools to remove the foreign body
- Do not put pressure on the eye
- Do not remove contact lenses unless there is sudden swelling, or you have suffered a chemical injury
- Avoid using eye drops without first consulting with a doctor
- Avoid working with machinery or at heights
- Avoid driving until the eye patch is removed and vision has returned to normal