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What to Do When You Get Something in Your Eye

How to Deal With Foreign Objects in Your Eye

Whether it’s a speck of dust or a bug, getting something in your eye is a very uncomfortable sensation. Like most people, rubbing your eyes may be your initial reaction to the problem. Unfortunately, that may only make the situation worse and may damage your sensitive eye tissues. So what should you do when there’s something stuck in your eye?

Wash Your Hands

When your eye is watering and you can barely see, washing your hands is probably the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, if you don’t wash your hands before touching your eyes, you may be more likely to develop an infection or increased eye irritation from dirt, dust, or debris.

Take a Good Look at Your Eye

It’s not easy to get a piece of sawdust or sand out of your eye when you’re not sure if the speck is stuck to the side of your eye or is trapped by your upper eyelid. If opening your eye is difficult, you may need to ask a friend to gently lift your upper and lower eyelids to find the foreign object. Moving your eyes up and down or from side to side may make it easier to find the foreign body.

Remove the Object or Substance Safely

Some foreign bodies can be removed simply by gently pulling your upper eyelid over the lower one. If that doesn’t work, flushing your eye with eye drops can be helpful. Flood your eye with the drops, then blink a few times to help the object exit your eye.

A cotton swab or a cotton ball may make it easier to remove something from your eye. Pour a few eye drops or a small amount of saline solution over the swab or cotton ball, then gently place the cotton against the object. When you remove the cotton, check if the object is now stuck to it.

Don’t use a swab or cotton ball if the object is stuck to your cornea, the clear, rounded layer of tissue over your iris and pupil. Touching this area could damage or scratch the cornea, causing a painful scratch. See your optometrist if you can’t easily remove the foreign body.

Do-it-yourself removal isn’t a good idea if a piece of glass or metal is stuck in your eye or an object has penetrated your eye. If you try to remove the object yourself, you could cause permanent damage to your eye. Call your optometrist immediately or go to the emergency room if this happens.

How to Handle Chemicals In Your Eye

Chemicals in toilet cleaner, bleach, battery acid, dishwasher soap, paint, and other products can irritate your eye or cause burns and damage. Flushing your eye with water is a must if this happens. Hold your eye under the faucet or shower for at least 15 to 20 minutes if this happens. Go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately if your eye has been exposed to a caustic chemical.

When a Contact Lens Is Stuck in Your Eye

Is your contact lens trapped under your upper eyelid? One of these techniques may help dislodge it:

  • Use artificial tears or eye drops to unstick the lens and move it downward
  • Pull your eyelid up gently while looking down
  • Place your finger on the outside of your upper eyelid and gently push the lens down (stop if the lens doesn’t budge)

Let your optometrist know if you can’t safely remove a stuck object or have any of these signs or symptoms after removing a foreign body from your eye:

  • Vision change
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Change in the size of your pupil
  • Trouble moving your eye
  • Your eye sticks out more than usual
  • Difficulty opening or closing your eye
  • A feeling that something is still stuck in your eye

Whether there’s something stuck in your eye or it’s time for your next vision exam, we can help you protect your vision. Give us a call and let us know how we can help you.


All About Vision: How to Safely Remove Something from Your Eye, 11/21

WebMD: What Should You Do When You Get Something in Your Eye?, 6/21/20

Medline Plus: Eye – Foreign Object In

NCBI: Small objects in the eye: Overview, 5/25/20

American Academy of Ophthalmology: How Do I Get a Contact Lens Out from the Top of My Eye?, 9/18/12

Poor Air Quality and Your Eyes

What You Can Do to Protect Your Eyes From Bad Air Quality

Exposure to pollution and other airborne irritants increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including heart disease, asthma, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and lung cancer. Unfortunately, your eyes may also suffer when the air quality is bad. Taking a few of these steps will improve your eye comfort and reduce the risk of vision problems.

How Air Quality Affects Your Eyes

The moist tissues in your eyes easily absorb pollutants in the air. Short-term exposure can cause irritation and inflammation, while long-term exposure can lead to age-related macular degeneration. Your risk of eye problems increases if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors when the air quality is poor.

Airborne Pollutants Can Trigger Painful Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” affects the conjunctiva, a layer of tissue that covers the whites of your eye and the insides of the eyelids. Redness, itching, burning, foreign body sensation, and light sensitivity are common symptoms. Although conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or chemicals, air quality is also a factor, particularly among people who have allergies.

Cases of allergic conjunctivitis among Japanese ophthalmologists and their families increased when nitrogen dioxide, a common pollutant was high. Results of the survey of Japanese eye doctors appeared in the December 3, 2019 issue of Scientific Reports.

In a study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science in January 2012, high levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter increased outpatient visits for non-specific conjunctivitis in Taiwan.

Pollution Could Be the Reason Your Eyes Feel So Dry

Do your eyes feel itchy and uncomfortable after spending time outdoors? You may be suffering from dry eye. The condition may also be to blame for blurry vision and redness. Pollution dries out the tear film that lubricates the sensitive tissues of your eyes, which causes the symptoms. Korean researchers discovered that higher ozone levels and lower humidity levels increased dry eye. Their conclusions were based on results obtained from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Poor Air Quality Increases Your Chance of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes blurry vision or loss of vision in the center of your eye. AMD affects the macula, the center part of the retina responsible for color and central vision. You’re more likely to develop AMD if you’re over age 60 or have a family history of the disease, although pollution may also play a part in AMD, according to a recent research study.

Exposure to fine particle air pollution increased the risk of AMD in a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. Some study participants also experienced changes in the thickness of their retinas due to pollution.

How You Can Reduce Your Risk of Pollution-Related Eye Issues

Although you may not be able to avoid pollution completely, these tips can help you protect your eyes:

  • Check Air Quality Forecasts. Take a look at the air quality forecast if you plan to spend time outdoors. If the air quality is unhealthy, it may be best to reschedule your activities if possible. Air quality forecasts are available on many weather websites.
  • Cover Your Eyes. Sunglasses or eyeglasses prevent pollutants from reaching your eyes. Wrap-around sunglasses offer the most protection.
  • Use Eye Drops. Lubricating eye drops keep your eyes moist and comfortable while reducing dry eye symptoms.
  • Increase Humidity. Use a humidifier in your home to increase moisture and prevent your dry eyes from feeling even worse.
  • Wear Your Glasses Instead of Contact Lenses. Contact lenses trap pollutants against your eye and increase your risk of developing dry eye and conjunctivitis. If you do wear your contacts on a day when the air quality is unhealthy, remove the lenses as soon as you return home and clean them immediately.
  • Contact Your Optometrist. Let your optometrist know if eye irritation or inflammation doesn’t improve after a day or two. Your eye doctor can prescribe eye drops that will reduce irritation, redness, and other symptoms.

Are your eyes dry or inflamed? Contact our office to schedule an appointment.


American Lung Association: The Terrible 10: Air Pollution’s Top Ten Health Risks, 4/6/17

American Optometric Association: Conjunctivitis

Scientific Reports: Air Pollution Significantly Associated with Severe Ocular Allergic Inflammatory Diseases, 12/3/19

National Eye Institute: Dry Eye, 1/22/20

British Journal of Ophthalmology: Association of Ambient Air Pollution with Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Retinal Thickness in UK Biobank, 2021

Healthline: Common Cause of Vision Loss Linked to Air Pollution – What to Know

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science: Relationship Between Air Pollution and Outpatient Visits for Nonspecific Conjunctivitis, 1/12

JAMA Ophthalmology: Potential Importance of Ozone in the Association Between Outdoor Air Pollution and Dry Eye Disease in South Korea, 5/16

How is Eye Pressure Measured?

Testing Your Eye Pressure

High pressure inside your eyes increases your risk of glaucoma, a disease that can cause vision loss. Although you can’t tell when your eye pressure is rising, a simple test conducted at your optometrist’s office helps your eye doctor detect and treat pressure changes.

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Pressure Under Control

Your eye is filled with a clear fluid called aqueous humor that delivers nutrients to the cornea and lens and removes waste products. The pressure produced by the fluid helps your eyes keep their round shape.

Drainage channels constantly remove old aqueous humor and make room for a new supply of fluid. If the drainage channels become blocked, your eye pressure rises, which can cause optic nerve damage.

The optic nerve carries electrical impulses from your eyes to your brain. Once the impulses reach the brain, they’re processed and transformed into images. If the optic nerve becomes damaged by high pressure inside your eyes, the impulses may not reach your brain. This can cause partial or complete vision loss.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t notice any symptoms if you have a common type of glaucoma called open-angle glaucoma. Despite the lack of symptoms, open-angle glaucoma can slowly damage your vision. Angle-closure glaucoma, the more severe form of the condition, occurs suddenly and does cause symptoms. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include pain, sudden loss of vision, nausea, headache, halos around lights, and blurry vision.

So how high is too high when it comes to eye pressure? The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that pressure between 10 and 21 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is normal and anything above that is too high. Some people who have eye pressure that’s technically in the normal range may also be at risk of developing glaucoma.

3 Ways to Test Eye Pressure

Eye doctors use several methods to test eye pressure, including:

  • Non-Contact Tonometry. Commonly called the “air puff” test, non-contact tonometry measures how much your corneas flatten when exposed to a burst of air. While you look at a light, a puff of air flattens your cornea. Generally, the more force needed to flatten the cornea, the higher the pressure inside your eye.
  • Goldmann Applanation Tonometry. Before this test begins, your eye doctor puts drops in your eyes that numb them and also adds a few drops of a blue dye. After your eye is numb, your doctor looks in your eyes with a special machine called a slit-lamp microscope. You’ll notice a glowing blue light that makes the dye added to your eyes visible. The test is conducted by pressing the tip of a small probe against your cornea. The tonometer measures how much pressure it takes to flatten the cornea.
  • Electronic Tonometry. An electronic tonometer looks a little like a pen. During the test, the device is briefly held against your eye after it’s numbed with eye drops. Your eye pressure reading appears on a small screen on the device.

What Happens If Your Pressure Is High

A higher-than-normal pressure reading doesn’t necessarily mean that you have glaucoma. Some people naturally have higher pressure readings than others, yet have no damage to their optic nerves.

If you have a high eye pressure reading, your eye doctor will take a close look at your optic nerve. Dilating your pupil with special drops makes it possible to view the optic nerve and spot damage. They may also take a few pictures of the nerve. In addition to checking out your optic nerve, your eye doctor measures the thickness of your corneas. A thick cornea could make your pressure measurement seem higher than it really is. As part of your examination, your eye doctor will also test your side vision and check to see if the drainage channels inside your eye are blocked.

If your pressure is too high, you may need one or more of these glaucoma treatments:

  • Eye drops to decrease pressure
  • Laser eye surgery to improve drainage
  • Traditional eye surgery if laser therapy isn’t helpful

Annual eye examinations and eye pressure tests help you protect your eyesight and ensure that you get the treatment you need should you ever develop glaucoma. Contact us to schedule your next comprehensive eye examination.


Bright Focus Foundation: How Is Eye Pressure Measured?

American Academy of Ophthalmology: Eye Pressure Testing, 2/26/18

All About Vision: Do I Have to Get the Air Puff Test, 10/21

Glaucoma Research Foundation: The Importance of Corneal Thickness, 10/29/17