How to Remove a Foreign Object From Your Eye

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Take a minute to evaluate the health of your eye each and every time you get something in it. Some foreign bodies require an emergency room visit, but many others do not. However, the key to avoiding a visit to the eye doctor comes in giving immediate attention to the eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Eyewashes
  • Mirrors
  • Facial Tissues
  • Wash your hands before touching your eye.

  • Inspect your eye carefully using a mirror and bright light. If someone is with you, ask him or her to inspect your eye for you by gently lifting the lid and peering into all the corners of your eye.

  • Take from your medicine cupboard a bottle of sterile, isotonic, buffered-solution eyewash. Make absolutely certain that its label states "for use in the eyes."

  • Ask a family member to flush out your eye for you. Although it is possible to flush out your own eye, having someone else flush it is more effective.

  • Lie down on a bed or couch. Tilt your head slightly to the left side if your left eye is being flushed, and slightly to the right side if your right eye is being flushed. This allows the foreign body to flow out and away from your eye, rather than pooling in the eye.

  • Have your family member take a good look around your eye by spreading open your eyelids. If your helper sees a foreign object, he or she should be extra diligent in flushing that particular spot out with the solution.

  • Hold a handkerchief near the outside of the eye to keep the eyewash from wetting your pillow and pouring into your ear.

  • Dab dry the outside of the eye, and rest for 5 minutes, preferably with your eye closed.

  • Open the eye and see how it feels. Is the grittiness gone? Does light hurt your eyes? If not, your eye is most likely flushed clean. If the eye continues to feel irritated, flush it one more time.

  • Consider calling an eye doctor if, after two thorough flushings, the eye still feels irritated. Continued irritation could be an indication of a corneal abrasion, and in that instance, too much flushing could do more harm than good.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are alone, you can use the eye cup that comes with the eyewash bottle to flush your eye.
  • Another method of removing a foreign object from your eye is to fill a large bowl with tepid water, and plunge your face into the water. Force your eyes open wide while moving your face around in the water - this will help dislodge particles. It works especially well with grass clippings and weed seeds.
  • If you get a piece of metal in your eye, a rust ring will form within 45 minutes. If you do not remove the metal immediately, you will have to go to the eye doctor to have the rust ring removed. You will not be able to remove a rust ring on your own.
  • Seek medical care if you cannot dislodge an object, if you have metal or glass particles in your eye, or if anything is embedded in your eye.
  • Never make the mistake of flushing your eyes with sterile eye drops containing tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride. These drops are meant to take the redness and irritation out of eyes, not to flush them clean.
  • If your eye continues to feel gritty or sore an hour after flushing it, or if it is streaked with redness, see an eye doctor. Corneal abrasions are serious and need immediate medical attention.

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