Removing a particle in the eye

Alternative names
Eye - foreign object in

Information

The eye will often clear itself of tiny objects, like eyelashes and sand, through blinking and tearing. If not, take these steps:

  1. Tell the person not to rub the eye. Wash your hands before examining it.
  2. Examine the eye in a well-lighted area. To find the object, have the person look up and down, then side to side.
  3. If you can’t find the object, grasp the lower eyelid and gently pull down on it to look under the lower eyelid. To look under the upper lid, you can place a cotton-tipped swab on the outside of the upper lid and gently flip the lid over the cotton swab.
  4. If the object is on an eyelid, try to gently flush it out with water. If that does not work, try touching a second cotton-tipped swab to the object to remove it.
  5. If the object is on the eye, try gently rinsing the eye with water. It may help to use an eye dropper positioned above the outer corner of the eye. DO NOT touch the eye itself with the cotton swab.

A scratchy feeling or other minor discomfort may continue after removing eyelashes and other tiny objects. This will go away within a day or two. If the person continues to have discomfort or blurred vision, get medical help.

For larger objects or other eye emergencies, see eye emergency first aid.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.