Object in the Eye: First Aid

Topic Overview

  • Don't rub the eye since this can scratch the outer surface (cornea) of the eye. You may have to keep small children from rubbing their eyes.
  • Wash your hands before touching the eye.
  • If you wear contact lenses, take your contacts out before you try to remove the object or flush the eye.
  • If an object is over the dark center (pupil) of the eye or over the colored part (iris) of the eye, you may try to flush it out gently with water. If the object does not come out with flushing, wear dark glasses and call your health professional. Do not put any pressure on the eye.
  • If the object is on the white part (sclera) of the eye or inside the lower lid, wet a cotton swab or the tip of a twisted piece of tissue and touch the end of it to the object. The object should cling to the swab or tissue. Some minor irritation is common after you have removed the object in this way.
  • Gently flush the eye with cool water. A clean eyedropper may help. Often the object may be under the upper eyelid and can be removed by lifting the upper lid away and flushing gently.
  • Do not try to remove a piece of metal from your eye, an object that has punctured the eye, or an object stuck on the eye after flushing with water.
  • Never use tweezers, toothpicks, or other hard items to remove any object. Using these items could cause eye damage.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised November 2, 2011

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