Something in the eye! It happens to all of us from time to time, whether it is an eyelash, dirt, grit, paint or any one of 100s of foreign bodies the result is the same. Discomfort at the least, excruciating pain at worst.
One of two things can happen when a foreign body gets into the eye. It can either stay on the surface or penetrate into the eye.
Penetrating Foreign Bodies
Most penetrating eye injuries are caused when using or around machinery or hammering when small particles of metal or wood traveling at high speed are flying around. Protective goggles should be worn in such an environment but we don’t live in a perfect world so accidents are bound to happen.
What can you do about Penetrating Foreign Bodies?
If you suffer or even suspect that a foreign body has penetrated the outer eye layer go without delay to the nearest treatment center at work, your doctor, or ophthalmologist. Doing nothing can lead to loss of vision, premature cataracts and damage to the retina so do not take any chances, delay is dangerous.
Surface Foreign Bodies
Any number of small particles can cause problems, often painful, when they become trapped or attached to the surface of the eye, sometimes under the eyelid.
In general these foreign bodies are blown or fall onto the eye, sometimes they are quick and easy to remove, other times they just seem to want to cause as much difficulty and accompanying pain as possible.
Foreign bodies lying on the eye surface very rarely result in a serious or sight threatening condition.
Action to Take
There are do’s and do nots when dealing with superficial foreign bodies. Of course if you happen to be near a doctors surgery or hospital a qualified nurse will have to hand all the necessary aids to painlessly remove the offending particle. The same applies to the local optician and in many countries the pharmacy or chemists can sort the problem.
But being practical or not wanting to cause a fuss what is the best way to remove the lash, or grit or whatever on your own?
The first objective is to be able to see the foreign body. It may be stuck under an eyelid or in the depths of a corner.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Lie the thumb and forefinger on the upper and lower eyelids and very gently lift and close the lids several times, nine times out of ten this will allow any particle stuck under a lid to loosen and be easily seen on the visible eye surface.
More often than not anything in either corner of the eye will also become easier to locate. Now comes the difficult part-
- A mirror is a must and do not be tempted to use any object that is the remotest bit solid, even a cotton bud must be used with extreme care. I normally use the corner of a clean handkerchief to pick off the foreign body unless I can rinse it out with clean warm water to start with, fine if I am at home but I don’t carry an eye bath around with me! Best of all is a reliable friend with a steady hand – no problem.
Never, never, take chances with the safety of your eyes. They are arguably your most valuable asset and deserve the very best of attention so if in doubt seek qualified advice, better to see than be sorry.
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