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Foreign Bodies: A Pain in the Eye

Foreign Bodies: A Pain in the Eye

What to do when it feels like something is stuck in your eye.

It’s happened to all of us. Suddenly, it feels like there’s something in your eye. It could be due to strong wind, or it could seemingly happen out of nowhere. Some people deal with this all the time, some people only on occasion. Whichever group you belong to, this article can help you understand the causes and solutions of feeling like you have a foreign body in your eye.

A foreign body could be anything from a tiny dust particle in the wind to a larger sliver of metal that was the result of an accident. It usually affects the cornea and conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the eye), and rarely penetrates deeper into the eye. Even so, it’s still usually uncomfortable. It can cause pain and pressure, and can scratch your cornea. The most common foreign objects that make their way into your eye include: eyelashes, dry mucus, sawdust, dirt/sand, cosmetics, and small metal and glass shards. Sometimes your contact lens can feel like a foreign object, especially if it is dirty or was inserted improperly.

Most of the time foreign bodies are small and harmless, and you can remove them yourself. The best method for this is to gently rinse the eye with an over the counter eye wash solution, or—if you’re in a pinch—tap water. Use enough water to make sure that the object is thoroughly rinsed out of your eye. If you still feel something in your eye after rinsing, you can manually remove it with a tissue or cotton swab. Be sure to look away from the swab while removing so as to not damage your cornea. If the foreign body is large, or you suspect it’s penetrated or even scratched your cornea, you’ll want to see a doctor immediately. You may need emergency care to protect your vision.

Some conditions make it feel like a foreign object is in your eye even though there’s nothing actually in it: a stye or chalazion, for instance. Blepharitis, conjunctivitis or corneal ulcer can also cause this sensation, as can overly dry eyes. If this is a sensation that occurs a lot for you, and you can’t find anything in your eye, make an appointment with your doctor so you can get the proper diagnosis.

Foreign bodies in your eye can be uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous, so it’s important to take care of them as soon as possible, whether it’s a simple risk or a trip to the doctor. To schedule an appointment with Sterling Vision, call 866-439-3588 or schedule online.