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Foreign Body, Eye (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Because of the specialized nature of eye examination equipment, a foreign body in the eye is usually handled best in an ophthalmologist's office. If an emergency department has the necessary equipment, an ophthalmologist may also see the patient in the emergency department. In some cases, a foreign body in the eye may be handled in an emergency department that has both a properly trained emergency physician and the appropriate equipment.

The most important aspect in deciding to seek medical attention has to do with one's own evaluation of the severity of the injury. A few guidelines should be followed in deciding to have the eyes evaluated. If one does not meet these guidelines, but is concerned that there may be significant damage, then it is always safer to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist or in a hospital's emergency department.

  • All children with eye injuries should be evaluated, especially if they complain of any visual problems, scratching sensation, or pain or if the eye is red and has a discharge.
  • Adults should seek medical attention for the following:
    • The patient feels something going into the eye after hitting metal on metal, such as hammering a nail.
    • The patient has removed the foreign body from the eye and continues to have a sensation that something is in the eye, or the patient continues to have pain and tearing after removal of the object.
    • The patient is unable to remove the foreign body from the eye.
    • The patient's vision is blurry or otherwise compromised (blind spots, seeing "stars").
    • The patient is bleeding from the eye or the area around the eye (including cuts to the eyelid or eyebrow).
    • Clear or bloody fluid is coming from the eyeball.
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