Foreign object in the eye: First aid

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Seat the person in a well-lighted area.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Caution

  • 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.
Feb. 22, 2012