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Vision Safety Tip: What to Do When You Get an Object in Your Eye

Foreign Object in Eye

At long last, it’s finally summertime. That means it’s time for soaking up the sun at a pool, having a nice picnic at a park, going for long walks on the beach (or at least around the neighborhood) and other fun outside activities. Enjoying the great outdoors is a fine way to spend time in the summer, but it also requires a certain amount of safety. That includes looking out for your eyes, too.

You can always take preventative vision-safety measures like wearing sunglasses outside, safety glasses during yardwork or goggles while swimming, but sometimes a foreign object can still get lodged in your eye. A foreign object can be anything from dust, grit or eyelashes that come in contact with your eye.

When you get a foreign object in your eye, you’ll definitely know it’s there. Your eye will feel agitated and you will start to blink excessively. Most of the time, these objects are harmless and easy to remove. However, sometimes an object can cause serious damage depending on how deeply it enters the eye.

If a foreign object has sharp or rough edges, contains chemicals, prevents you from closing your eye or is causing your eye to bleed, you should seek medical help immediately. Those are indications that the foreign object is causing serious damage, and you should not try to remove the object yourself. Cover both eyes while traveling to the doctor’s office to avoid eye movement.

On the other hand, if you suspect that the object is small enough and isn’t causing any major eye problems, you may be able to remove it yourself. Below are some safety tips on how you can do it yourself:

Vision Safety: What You Should Do

 First you should:

  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes
  • Use a mirror in a well-lit area to find the object in your eye

 Then you can try these methods to remove the object:

  • Start by blinking. This will allow your tears to wash the object out — but don’t rub your eye
  • Often, objects are behind your upper eyelid. Pull the upper lid out and over the lower lid and roll your eye downward. This can help get the particle out of the upper lid and flush it out of the eye
  • For a particle in the lower eyelid, pull out the lower lid and try to gently remove it with a cotton swab or tissue, careful to not swipe across the eye. Be sure to look opposite of where you feel the particle to protect the cornea
  • If these methods do not work, you can try to flush the object out with water as you hold your eye open. You can use an eye wash solution, but if none is available, you can also use tap water, a water fountain or shower

Vision Safety: What You Should NOT Do

Just be sure to not:

  • Rub or put any kind of pressure on the eye
  • Use tweezers, cotton swabs or any other type of utensils on the surface of the eye
  • Remove contact lenses unless there is swelling or you have suffered a chemical injury 

If you try these methods and you are still unable to remove the object from your eye, or you start to experience other symptoms, like bleeding, seek medical attention immediately. If you are successful in removing the object from your eye but your vision remains blurred or abnormal, or you experience swelling or pain, contact an eye care professional.

Here at VSP, we want to help you keep your vision safe. An important part of taking care of your eyes is making sure you see an eye doctor regularly to identify early problems and stay up-to-date on your vision prescriptions. Vision insurance allows you to care for your eyes affordably and can cost under $17 per month. Visit VSPDirect.com to find the right vision plan for you, or call 800.785.0699 to enroll in a vision insurance plan.