Emergency advice

Something in the eye:

1. Don’t rub it.
2. Gently wash out with clean water.
3. If the object has possibly penetrated the eye, don't try to remove it.
4. Seek medical advice.

What are foreign object eye injuries?

Foreign objects (such as grit, a loose eyelash or a contact lens) that lie on the surface of the eye can easily be rinsed out. Sharp fragments like metal or glass may cut or penetrate the eye and become embedded. If this is the case, the person should not attempt to remove the object but cover the eye and seek medical help as soon as possible.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • pain or discomfort in the eye or eyelid
  • redness and watering of the eye
  • a visible wound or a bloodshot appearance
  • blurred, partial or a total loss of vision.

What to do

  1. Advise the casualty not to rub their eye as this could make it worse. Ask them to sit down facing a light.

  2. Stand behind them and gently open their eyelids with your thumbs. Ask them to look right, left, up and down as you look closely at the eye.

  3. If you can see something, ask them to tip their head backwards and wash it out by pouring clean water from the inner corner from a glass or jug.

  4. If this doesn’t work and the object is still on the surface of the eye, try to remove it with a moist piece of gauze or the damp corner of a clean handkerchief or tissue.

    If the object isn’t easy to remove or the eye is very painful, seek medical advice - ring 111 or attend an Eye Casualty, Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre.

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