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A to Z: Foreign Body, Eye

Our eyelids and eyelashes usually keep objects (or foreign bodies) such as dust out of the eye, but sometimes things get through.

More to Know

To prevent damage to the eye, any object that isn't washed out right away by tears must be removed. The foreign body can be removed from the eye either with irrigation (washing with water) or a small sterile instrument. A harmless dye (fluorescein) is usually applied to the eye's surface to help the doctor see the object. This dye temporarily stains tears, nasal drainage, and sometimes the skin around the eye.

Keep in Mind

For 24–72 hours, someone who has had a foreign body removed from the eye may continue to feel like there's something in the eye, have slightly blurry vision, or be sensitive to light. This happens because an object sometimes leaves a small scratch on the eye's surface, which the doctor can see with the fluorescein dye. Symptoms usually improve overnight, but can last a few days as the scratch heals.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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