Doctor's Notes on Foreign Body in the Eye
Anything that gets in the eye is medically termed a foreign body. This can range from an eyelash to a metal shard and any other object that gets into the eye. Depending on what gets into the eye, or how an injury occurred, a foreign body may scratch or pierce the eye may simply irritate the eye and go away with no long-term problem, or it could cause serious injury such as a corneal abrasion.
Symptoms of a foreign body injury to the eye may not be immediately apparent. In some cases, the symptoms of a foreign body in the eye may be intermittent. When symptoms of a foreign body injury to the eye occur they may include
- sharp pain in the eye followed by burning,
- tearing, and redness;
- feeling that something is in the eye;
- a scratching sensation when blinking;
- blurred vision or vision loss in the affected eye;
- bleeding into the white part of the eye, which can be either a conjunctival hemorrhage or a subconjunctival hemorrhage;
- blood layering in front of your iris,
- the colored area of the eye, and
- behind the cornea, the clear dome on the front of the eye (called hyphema, which may be a sign of significant injury).
What is the Treatment for Eye Foreign Body?
If there is a foreign body in your eye, seek medical care.
First, rinse the eye with tap water to try to flush out the foreign body. If this does not work, a doctor can place numbing medication, tetracaine, in the eye to make the surface numb. Using a cotton swab, or a small needle or an instrument called a spatula, the doctor can remove most small foreign bodies. The foreign body may cause damage to the eyeball. Further treatment of damage done to the eye by a foreign body may include:
- Corneal abrasions or scratches to the surface of the eye
- Antibiotic ointment and/or antibiotic eyedrops
- Pain medicine
- Iritis from the trauma causes redness and pain in the front of the eye
- Treated with drops to decrease spasm
- Pain medications
- A hyphema (blood in between the cornea and the iris) requires close follow-up care with an ophthalmologist
- Any damage to the iris, the lens, or the retina requires immediate evaluation by an ophthalmologist and may require surgery
- A ruptured eyeball requires surgery
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Anatomy and Physiology of the EyeEven though the eye is small, only about 1 inch in diameter, it serves a very important function -- the sense of sight. Vision is by far the most used of the five senses and is one of the primary means that we use to gather information from our surroundings.
Bleeding in Eye (Hyphema)Hyphema is bleeding in the eye. Trauma to the eye can cause bleeding in the front (or anterior chamber) of the eye between the cornea and the iris. This may put a person at risk for glaucoma later in life.
Chemical Eye BurnsChemical burns to the eye or eyelid make up roughly 10% of all eye injuries. Depending on the type of chemical and how long the eye was exposed to it, chemical eye burns can cause complete loss of sight and can be permanently debilitating.
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Eye PainEye pain has many causes, signs, symptoms, and treatments. It's also described as pain behind the eye, eye socket pain, or shooting pain in the eye. Headaches and sinusitis can be causes of eye pain.
Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in the Eye)Subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding in the eye) is a bursting of small blood vessels in the sclera, or the white part of the eye, located under the thin, moist membrane that covers the eye called the conjunctiva. The hemorrhage appears as a red blotch in the white of the eye.
What Are Some Common Eye Infections?Conjunctivitis (eye membrane infection), keratitis (cornea infection), corneal ulcers, styes, blepharitis (eyelid infection) and uveitis (infection of the eye’s middle layer) are all possible types of eye infection.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.