A foreign body: An irritating condition

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Most everyone has had the sensation of something being in the eye.

A feeling like a lash or speck of dust in the eye is what is referred to as a foreign body sensation. These can range from mild and superficial to more severe where an object is embedded in the eye.

The cornea is so sensitive that any foreign object usually causes reflex tearing and pain. In most instances, the large amount of tears produced naturally flush the object safely out of the eye. In some cases the object becomes lodged either under the upper lid or in the cornea.

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Continual irritation and pain occurs.

If the object is embedded under the lid the cornea can be scratched repeatedly as blinking drags the object across the corneal surface.

Detection of foreign bodies can many times only be seen by an eye doctor using a slit lamp microscope and placing a fluorescent dye eye drop in the eye to locate the object or scratches caused by the object.

If a piece of metal, wood chip or other projectile lodges in the eye, it may need careful removal using small instruments under topical anesthesia.

Many times after foreign body removal, antibiotic eye drops are prescribed to prevent infection.