Foreign Bodies

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

In our continuing series on Eye Health, Fatimah Hospital’s Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talks to us about things that can get into our eyes.

Help… something’s stuck in my eye! Yes, almost everyone has had to experience something getting into the eye sometime or other. So what does one do when something like that happens? Foreign bodies getting into the eye are common and may range from the occasional eyelash or makeup, to a much more dangerous foreign body like a metal fragment getting embedded in the cornea (transparent area of the eye) or a foreign body going deep into the eyeball (vitreous).

In the case of the eyelash or makeup getting into the eye, it usually sits on the superficial layers of the eye and your eye’s natural tears will usually wash the object out. However, sometimes foreign bodies may scratch the surface of the cornea or the foreign body may become embedded in the eye. It is dangerous when small particulate objects travelling at high speed enter the eye as they can cause serious injury. These injuries may result in bleeding, a change in the size or shape of the pupil, or a serious damage to the inside of the eyeball (retina) with the foreign body being retained in the eyeball resulting in vision loss.


  • Foreign body feeling, tearing and redness in the eye following a particular activity.
  • Scratchy feeling in the eye.
  • Visual blurring after doing mechanical work with lots of flying debris.
  • Bleeding from the eye.


To remove minor debris, try rinsing your eye with a saline solution (the same solution used to rinse contact lenses). Tap water or distilled water may be used if no saline solution is available immediately. You can also fill a glass with saline solution or water and place it to your eye and tilt your head back. Do this many times. If the foreign body appears embedded and does not seem to be able to be washed out, seek professional eye attention. If you are wearing a contact lens, it should be removed prior to trying to flush out the foreign body. DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE or apply pressure to your eye.


  • ·You feel something going into your eye after hitting something, such as when hammering a nail or chopping a branch.
  • ·You have removed the foreign body from your eye and continue to have a sensation that something is in your eye, or you have persistent pain and tearing.
  • ·You are unable to remove the foreign body from your eye or are unsure you have removed it.
  • ·Your vision is blurry.


Eye protection is the best prevention. Always wear safety goggles, or face shields when working in an environment where flying debris is likely, especially when working with power tools or chemicals.

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