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First Aid and Emergencies

Objects in the Eye

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

A speck of dirt or small object in the eye will often wash out with your tears. If the object is not removed, it may scratch the eye (corneal abrasion). Most corneal abrasions are minor and will heal on their own in 1 to 2 days.

When an object is thrown forcefully into the eye (e.g., from a machine), it is likely that the eyeball will be punctured and emergency care will be needed.

Home Treatment

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  • Wash your hands before touching the eye.

  • Don't rub the eye; you could scratch the cornea. You may have to restrain a small child to keep the child from rubbing his or her eye.

  • Do not try to remove an object that is on the coloured part of the eye or stuck in the white of the eye. Call a health professional.

  • If the object is at the side of the eye or on the lower lid, moisten a cotton swab or the tip of a twisted piece of tissue and touch the end to the object. The object should cling to the swab or tissue. Some minor irritation is common after you have removed the object.

  • Gently wash the eye with cool water. An eyedropper helps.

  • Never use tweezers, toothpicks, or other hard items to remove an object from the eye. Eye damage may result.

When to Call a Health Professional

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Call 911 or seek emergency care if the eyeball seems to be punctured.

Call your doctor:

  • If the object is on the coloured part of the eye or is embedded in the eye. Do not pull out an object that is stuck in the eye.

  • If you cannot remove the object.

  • If pain is severe or persists; if it feels like there is still something in your eye; if your eye is sensitive to light; or if your vision is blurred after the object has been removed. Your cornea may be scratched. Keep your eye closed.

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