Foreign Object in Your Eye? Know What to Do in an Emergency

One of the popular comics from Gary Larson's The Far Side depicts a medieval jousting scene where the action has stopped and all attention is on one of the knights, who is rubbing his eye. The mediator of the fight explains the delay to the spectators in one word: "Eyelash!"

The comedy of the image, of course, is that jousting can be a fatal activity, but everyone has compassion for the fighter who has something in his eye. If you've ever had a foreign object in your eye, you know how debilitating it is.

It's important to know how to handle getting a foreign object in your eye so that you can remain calm and know what to do.

Here's Mud in Your Eye

Healthy eyes will produce tears immediately upon the introduction of a foreign object, and this will help clear the eye of many common irritants like stray lashes or dust. For any particle bigger than that, the natural instinct will be to touch or rub the eye, and this temptation should be resisted. Wash your hands, and find a well-lit place to examine the eye. Use your fingers to gently pull the lower lid down, and then the upper lid up alternately, to find the object. Rinse the debris away with water.

Eye Emergencies

If you ever get a larger foreign object in your eye, do not attempt removal, but instead focus on calming yourself and communicating with those around you. Have someone get medical help immediately while you secure the situation. Stop all activity around you by alerting others of the trouble, and sit or lie down. Focus on deep breaths, and do not look around. Even if only one eye is injured, cover both eyes to inhibit eye movement until you can get to a medical facility.

If a chemical has splashed into your eyes accidentally, rinse the area with cool tap water immediately. As MedlinePlus notes, you should seek medical attention without delay, even if the condition seems to improve.

Visualizing a traumatic experience is something we tend to avoid, but considering and being prepared for worst-case scenarios can potentially save your vision.

Eye on Safety

It's also important to arm yourself with preventative tips. For example, look through your home and familiarize yourself with hazardous household cleaners and garden chemicals to know their risks. Some hazardous chemicals, like ammonia, have repugnant odors and irritating characteristics which repulse people naturally, diminishing the risk of an accident, notes the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. If you work around compounds like this, beware olfactory fatigue, which can acclimatize you to the chemical's harsh odor and break down your defenses.

Find the first aid kit at work, and know how to get to it from where you are stationed. Before you attempt any metal work, grinding, hammering, or yard work, research the best ways to do them safely.

It is of the utmost importance to wear safety glasses if you are performing a job or task that could potentially injure your eyes. In addition, knowing what to do should you ever get a foreign object in your eye will help you remain calm and take the appropriate steps in an emergency.

For questions or comments, contact Woodhams Eye Clinic.