If you get a foreign object in your eye:
- Wash your hands.
- Try to flush the object out of your eye with clean water or saline solution. Use an eyecup or a small, clean drinking glass positioned with its rim resting on the bone at the base of your eye socket.
- Another way to flush a foreign object from your eye is to get into a shower and aim a gentle stream of lukewarm water on your forehead over the affected eye while holding your eyelid open.
To help someone else:
- Wash your hands.
- Seat the person in a well-lighted area.
- Gently examine the eye to find the object. Pull the lower lid down and ask the person to look up. Then hold the upper lid while the person looks down.
- If the object is floating in the tear film on the surface of the eye, try using a medicine dropper filled with saline solution or clean, lukewarm water to flush it out. If a medicine dropper isn't available, use a glass of water or hold the person's head under a gentle stream of water.
- Don't try to remove an object that's embedded in the eyeball.
- Don't rub the eye.
- Don't try to remove a large object that makes closing the eye difficult.
When to call for help
Call 911 or your local emergency number when:
- You can't remove the object.
- The object is embedded in the eyeball.
- The person with the object in the eye is experiencing abnormal vision.
- Pain, redness or the sensation of an object in the eye persists after the object is removed.
- Subbarao I, et al., eds. American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care. New York, N.Y.: Random House; 2009:129.
- Riordan-Eva P, et al. Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=19. Accessed Jan. 19, 2012.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 21, 2012.