Eye - Foreign Body or Object

Is this your symptom?

  • A foreign body or object becomes stuck in the eye
  • The main symptoms are irritation, pain, tearing, and blinking

Some Basics...

  • Objects (foreign bodies) that get into the eye need to be removed. They can damage the eye. Sometimes a doctor will need to remove the object.
  • Common things that get into the eye are eyelashes or a piece of dried mucus. Sand, dirt, sawdust, or grit can be blown into the eyes. Tree and plant pollen can also get blown into the eyes.
  • A contact lens cannot go behind the eyeball. It can sometimes get hidden under the upper or lower eyelid.
  • Avoid rubbing the eye. This can lead to the foreign object scratching the cornea. This is the clear part in the middle of the eye.

When to Call for Eye - Foreign Body or Object

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Sharp object (foreign body)
  • Object is a piece of chemical
  • Object hit eye at high speed (metallic chip from hammering, lawnmower, explosion)
  • Object is stuck on the eyeball (Caution: do not try to remove it)
  • Object feels like it's still there after washing the eye
  • Pain or blurred eyesight after washing eye
  • Cloudy spot on the clear middle part of the eye
  • You think you have a serious injury
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Yellow or green pus from eyes
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Small object (foreign body) in the eye that you think you can get out
  • Contact lens stuck in the eye

Care Advice

How to Remove Something from the Eye

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Small objects (foreign bodies) in the eye need to be removed. They can damage the eye.
    • You can remove them from the eye at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Treatment for Many Particles (such as dirt or sand):
    • First, clean around the eye with a wet washcloth.
    • Put your eye and the side of your face in a pan of water. Try to open and close your eye repeatedly while your face is under water.
  3. Treatment for a Particle in a Corner of the Eye: Try to get it out. Use a moistened cotton swab (Q-Tip) or the corner of a moistened cloth.
  4. Treatment for a Particle Under the Lower Lid:
    • Pull your lower lid out. Do this by pulling down on the skin over the cheek bone.
    • Touch the particle with a moistened cotton swab.
    • If that doesn't work, pull your lower lid out and pour water on the speck.
  5. Treatment for a Particle Under the Upper Lid:
    • If you cannot see the particle, it most often is under the upper lid.
    • Put your eye and the side of your face in a pan of water. Try to keep opening and closing your eye while your face is under water.
    • You can also wash your eye under the faucet.
    • If the particle is still there, pull your upper lid out. Draw it over the lower lid. This will sometimes move the particle. The lower eyelashes may sweep the particle from under the upper eyelid.
  6. What to Expect: The discomfort, redness, and excessive tearing should go away within 1-2 hours. If it does not go away, you should see a doctor. The foreign body may still be there or you might have a scratch on your cornea.
  7. Contact Lenses: Switch to glasses for a short time. This will help stop damage to your eye.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Feeling of "grittiness" or pain in your eye (not all of the foreign body has gotten out)
    • Eyesight does not return to normal after washing eye
    • Tearing and blinking even after object removed
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Taking Out a Contact Lens

  1. What You Should Know:
    • A contact lens cannot go behind the eyeball. It can sometimes get hidden under the upper or lower eyelid.
    • You can take out a hidden contact at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Wash Your Hands: First, wash your hands with soap and water.
  3. Wet the Contact Lens:
    • Put several drops of saline into your eye.
    • You may need to repeat this in 5 minutes. It will help to hydrate soft contacts. It will also help float both soft and hard contacts.
  4. Taking Out a Soft Contact Lens:
    • Look upwards.
    • Pull down your lower eyelid with your middle finger.
    • Touch contact lens with your index finger. Slide it downwards to the lower white part of your eye.
    • Gently pinch the contact lens between your thumb and index finger. Remove it from your eye.
  5. Taking Out a Hard Contact Lens - Blink Method:
    • Pull outwards on the skin at the corner of the eye. Use your right index finger for right eye. Use your left index finger for left eye.
    • Cup your other hand under the eye to catch the contact lens.
    • Blink a few times.
  6. Taking Out a Hard Contact Lens - Plunger Method:
    • Use a "plunger" to remove a contact lens.
    • If you do not have one, you can get one at a drugstore. This is a small flexible plastic tool that has a suction cup on it.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Cannot remove the contact lens
    • Pain or feeling of foreign body (object) in eye lasts more than 2 hours after taking out the contact
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 11/23/2017 1:29:42 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:04 PM

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First Aid - Many Particles in Eye
  • Clean around the eye with a wet washcloth first.
  • Place the face under a gently running faucet or a shower. Hold the eyelid open while you do this.
  • Or, try to open and close the eye repeatedly while submerging that side of the face in a pan of water.
First Aid - Foreign Object in Corner of Eye
  • Try to get the particle out with a moistened cotton swab or the corner of a moistened cloth.
  • If this does not work, then place the face under a gently running faucet or a shower. Hold the eyelids open while you do this. This should flush the particle out.
First Aid - Foreign Object Under Lower Eyelid
  • Pull the lower eyelid out by depressing the skin above the cheekbone.
  • Touch the particle with a moistened cotton swab.
  • If that does not work, try pouring water on the speck while pulling the lower eyelid out.
First Aid - Foreign Object Under Upper Eyelid
  • If particle cannot be seen, it's probably under the upper lid, the most common hiding place.
  • Try to open and close the eye several times while it is submerged in a pan or bowl of water.
  • If this fails, pull the upper lid out and draw it over the lower lid. This maneuver and tears will sometimes dislodge the particle.
First Aid - Eyelids - Glass On
  • Method 1: Bend forward and close the eyes. Have someone blow on the closed eyelids to get the flakes of glass off the skin.
  • Method 2: Another technique is to touch the flakes of glass with a piece of tape. See drawing.
  • To get off any remaining glass, splash water on the eyelids and face. Cover the eyes with a wet washcloth. Do not rub the eyes.

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