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Foreign Objects in the Eyes

Updated on November 7, 2008

Foreign Objects in the Eyes

Foreign objects that are rubbed or blown into the eyes cause discomfort and are potentially dangerous because they could scratch the eyes' surface or become embedded in the eye. The symptoms are redness, burning sensation, headache, pain, and excess tears.

General precautions are: to keep the child from rubbing his or her eyes; washing hands thoroughly before examining the eye; and not attempting to remove a foreign body by inserting a toothpick, match, or any other instrument. Refer the child to a doctor if something is embedded in the eye or seems to be embedded, even if you cannot locate it.

To find and remove a foreign body from the surface of the eyeball or from the inner surface of the eyelid, first pull down the lower lid to determine whether or not the foreign body lies on the inner surface. If you see the object, gently lift it away with the corner of a clean handkerchief or tissue paper. Do not use dry absorbent cotton around the eye. If the object cannot be located, it may be lodged below the upper lid. Have the child look down and grasp the lashes of the upper lid. This may dislodge a foreign object trapped below the lid. If the foreign body has not been dislodged, it is necessary to turn the lid outside out. Grasp the eyelashes. Depress the upper lid by placing a long matchstick, cotton tip, or other similar object horizontally on top of the lid. Pull the lashes upward against the matchstick, lift off the foreign body with the corner of a clean handkerchief then return the lid to its normal position by pulling the lashes downward. Flush the eye with water. If the object is still not removed and may be embedded, cover the eye with a dry gauze bandage and consult a physician.

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