What Happens if You Get Something Stuck in Your Eye?
One of the most uncomfortable sensations you can experience is having something stuck in your eye. Usually, it’s a little more than a nuisance. However, it can be painful, and if you cannot remove the object in your eye, damage can occur.
In many cases, your eye will water from the irritation caused by the foreign object. This usually washes away whatever it is. Unless you have a problem with tears or lubrication, your eyes are designed to wash away foreign matter and deal with occasional debris.
When you get a small object in your eye – an eyelash, a piece of fuzz, or something comparable – you’ll be able to remove it without medical attention.
As long as you can see the object when you look in the mirror and get a grip on it, you can pull it from your eye. Just make sure you wash your hands before you begin touching your eye and the area around your eyes.
The most important thing to remember if you have something in your eye is that you should never rub it. Rubbing your eye when there’s a foreign object in it puts you at risk of corneal abrasion.
It’s also important never to use a cotton swab or tweezers to remove an object. This might seem like a good way to capture an object you can’t grip with your fingers. However, putting these objects near your eyes is dangerous.
Read More: How to Improve Your Eyesight
Dangers of Getting Something Stuck in Your Eye
Getting something stuck in your eye usually isn’t dangerous, but it can be. Foreign objects and debris in your eyes put you at risk of:
- Infection. If something remains in your eye long enough, it can lead to an infection. Over time, this affects your vision.
- Corneal scratches and abrasions. Any foreign object in the eye can scratch the cornea. This is especially a risk if you rub your eye when there’s something in it. Most corneal abrasions heal within a few days, but they can cause long-term complications.
- Ulcers. If a scratched cornea doesn’t heal, the wound can develop an ulcer. Over time, an ulcer interferes with your vision and can lead to an abscess.
- Penetration of the eye. If something enters your eye with force, it can penetrate the eyeball. This puts you at risk of injury and blindness.
How to Remove Chemicals or Irritants From Your Eyes
If your eyes are exposed to chemicals or irritants, you’ll need to flush your eyes with water immediately. Most of the time, this happens when household cleaners or industrial chemicals splash into your eye.
If this happens, you’ll need to rinse your eyes with clean water or saline water for at least 15 minutes. Many people have eyewash stations at work if they are working around chemicals or dangerous liquids. It’s also important to wear protective eyewear if you’re working with strong liquids or chemicals.
To rinse your eye after exposure, hold your eye open and allow the water or solution to rinse the eye thoroughly.
Depending on the chemical and your success with flushing your eye after exposure, you’ll want to follow up with a visit to your doctor. A professional can determine if any serious harm occurred.
If you wear contact lenses and get chemicals in your eyes, make sure you remove the contact lens from the affected eye and rinse it for at least 15 minutes.
How to Get a Foreign Object Out of Your Eye
The first thing to do if you get a foreign object in your eye is to let nature run its course. Most people’s eyes water when there’s a foreign object causing irritation. Sometimes this is enough to flush out the foreign object.
If this doesn’t work, try flushing it out with clean water or a sterile saline solution. You might need to do this for several minutes to remove the object.
If the foreign body remains in your eye or you feel irritation once it’s removed, contact your eye doctor or visit the ER for an exam.
How to Remove Debris Stuck Under Your Upper Eyelid
If the debris in your eye isn’t visible, but you can feel it irritating your eye, there’s a chance it’s slipped under your upper eyelid.
To remove it, you’ll need to pull your upper eyelid down and then release it. The object might come out as your upper lid slides back into place. Holding your eye open and pulling the upper lid outward as you flush it with water or saline solution might also work it loose.
How to Remove Debris Stuck Under Your Lower Eyelid
If you get something stuck under your lower eyelid, you’ll need to press on the skin as you pull your eyelid out. Make sure you can see the pink on the underside of your lid.
If you see the object, gently wipe it away with a wet cotton ball, being careful not to touch your eyeball.
Again, if this doesn’t work, try flushing it with a gentle stream of water as you hold your eyelid away from your eye.
When Should You Flush Your Eye?
Flushing your eye is always an option if you have something stuck in it. If your eyes are exposed to chemical irritants, you’ll want to flush your eye immediately.
Flushing with water or saline solution is also helpful if you can’t get small debris out of your eye or if you have more than one speck of debris in your eye.
When to See a Doctor
In some cases, you’ll need to visit your doctor if there’s something in your eye. Seek medical attention if:
- Your eyes are exposed to harsh chemicals
- An object pokes a hole in your eye
- An object pierces your eye and gets stuck
- You’ve tried flushing your eyes with water and the foreign debris remains
- Your eye still feels irritated a few days after removing foreign debris
- Your eye bleeds as a result of irritation from a foreign object or chemical
- You can’t close your eye
- You experience vision changes
- Your eye feels worse after you’ve removed debris
Your eye doctor will examine your eye for scratches or other damage. They might also give you medication to prevent or treat an infection. If an object pierces your eye, you’ll need to undergo special testing to evaluate the damage.
You should visit the emergency room immediately if your eye is punctured or pierced.
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