Eye Effects in Calgary & Didsbury
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What Should I Do If I Have Something in My Eye?

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A young woman squinting and rubbing her eyes in discomfort.

Your eyes are precious, and when you notice or feel like something might be wrong, acting quickly is advised. If you have something in your eye—whether it’s an eyelash, dirt, or hazardous material—it’s good to know how to safely address the problem.

It’s important to note that if you’re ever unsure of what to do, immediately stop and seek medical attention. Your eyes are extremely sensitive and can easily be scratched or damaged, and this can have long-term implications on your vision. Never put your eyes at risk; professional help can make a difference when it comes to preserving your sight.

So, what should you do if you have something in your eye?

1. Recognize That Something’s Wrong

When something gets in your eye, it often triggers an immediate response. You’ll likely notice one or more of the following:

  • A sudden sensation of discomfort or pain in the eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness and irritation
  • Blurred vision

At this point, it’s essential to stay calm. Panic can lead to a mistake, and a mistake can have a significant negative impact on your vision. Stay calm, breathe, and keep a level head.

2. Wash Your Hands

Before you do anything, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Your hands come into contact with countless surfaces throughout the day, and can easily transmit germs and bacteria to your eye. Washing your hands, even if you don’t think they’re dirty, can prevent infections or something worse from occurring. 

3. Find a Well-Lit Area

Good lighting is essential for effectively assessing the situation – it gives you a better chance of safely removing a foreign object from your eye.

Immediately move to a brighter area; preferably one with a mirror. This lets you see better and makes it significantly easier to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.

4. Inspect Your Eye

Gently pull down your lower eyelid or lift up your upper eyelid and examine your eye in the mirror. Look carefully for any visible particles.

If you have somebody nearby, ask them for help. Make sure you’re being gentle when touching your eyes; don’t rub them or scratch them! This can cause further problems.

5. Blink Quickly

For minor irritants like dust or an eyelash, blinking rapidly may help resolve the problem. Blinking produces tears, which can naturally help flush out small particles trapped in the eye. Do not forcefully rub your eye, as this can lead to additional irritation. 

6. Rinse Your Eye with Clean Water

If you can see or feel the object and blinking it away doesn’t work, rinse your eyes with cool, clean water or a sterile saline solution. Tilt your head to the side and gently pour the liquid over the eye. This helps flush out the irritant without harming the eye or the surrounding area.

If at any point you feel severe pain or discomfort or notice changes to your vision, stop what you’re doing right away and seek medical attention. Don’t put your vision at risk!

A female optometrist smiling while examining a male patient's eyes.

7. Avoid Using Tweezers

It might be tempting to try and use a pair of tweezers or another instrument to try and remove the hazard. However, this should be avoided at all costs!

Using a tool to try and take something out of your eye heightens the potential of injury If you’re unable to get the irritant out, leave it to the professionals—even if it’s uncomfortable. They will be able to get everything back to functioning and feeling correctly with ease. 

8. Repeat if Necessary

If the first attempt at removing the foreign object is not successful, don’t get discouraged. Repeat each step, paying close attention to any changes in both your eyes and the object itself.

Remember to stay calm and avoid rubbing or excessively touching your eyes. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to remove a foreign object from the eye, so patience is key. 

9. Visit Your Optometrist

If you’ve tried these steps and still have something in your eye, reach out to our team at Eye Effects—we can help! Whether it’s an emergency or an inconvenience, don’t hesitate to contact our team today! We look forward to meeting with you and aiding you on your eyecare journey.

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Waddell

Dr. Jeffrey Waddell is a graduate of the University of Alberta and the Pacific University College of Optometry. He has practiced optometry since 2002. He has practiced optometry all over the United States and Canada, and in Calgary since 2013. Dr. Waddell enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with his wife Alanna, and three children and two dogs. Dr. Waddell has a special interest in pediatrics, dry eye treatment, contact lenses and eye nutrition.
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