A foreign object in the eye usually enters from outside the body. It can range from dust or even a metal shard and these do not naturally belong there. Once a foreign object enters the eye, it will surely affect the structures such as the cornea or the conjunctiva. The cornea is best described as the clear dome that covers the front surface of the eye. It functions as a protective covering for the front of the eye. The light enters via the cornea and helps focus light on the retina at the back of the eye.
The conjunctiva is the thin mucous membrane that envelops the sclera. Take note that the conjunctiva runs to the edge of the cornea as well as covering the moist area beneath the eyelids.
Foreign objects in the eye can lead to scratches or abrasions on the cornea. These injuries are typically minor. Nevertheless, some types of foreign objects can lead to infection or damage the vision. Always remember that a foreign object that lands on the front part of the eye will not go behind the eyeball.
Symptoms of a foreign object in the eye
Individuals who have a foreign object in the eye will suffer from immediate symptoms such as:
- Sensation of something present in the eye
- Feeling of pressure or discomfort
- Extreme tearing
- Eye pain
- Excessive blinking
- Pain when looking at light
- Bloodshot or red eyes
Cases in which foreign objects penetrate the eye are considered rare. In most cases, objects that enter the eye are due to high-speed impact such as an explosion. The foreign objects that penetrate the eye are known as intraocular objects. The additional symptoms include discharge of fluid or blood from the eye.
Causes of foreign object in the eye
Majority of foreign objects that enter the conjunctiva of the eye are due to mishaps that happen during daily activities. The common types of foreign objects in the eye include:
- Dried mucus
- Metal particles
- Contact lenses
- Glass shards
Sand and dirt fragments usually enter the eye due to wind or falling debris. Sharp materials such as glass or metal can enter the eye due to accidents or explosions involving tools such as drills, hammers and lawnmowers. The foreign objects that enter the eye at a high rate of speed can pose a higher risk for injury.
Emergency care for foreign object in the eye
If a foreign object in the eye is present, immediate diagnosis and treatment will prevent infection and potential loss of vision. Removing a foreign object might cause eye damage thus it is important to get immediate emergency treatment if the following foreign objects is present in the eye:
- Those with rough and sharp edges
- Large enough to interfere when closing the eyes
- Contains chemicals
- Embedded in the eye
- Propelled into the eye at a high speed
- Causes bleeding in the eye
Any foreign object in the eye should be checked and emergency care should be provided as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the affected eye.