First Aid for a Foreign Object in the Eye

When an object gets into the eye, the effects are often superficial; however,

Foreign Object in the Eye

Learn to recognize and help patients with objects in the eye by taking workplace approved first aid training.

severe injuries result when the object cuts the clear surface, the cornea of the eye. Small objects are often dislodged by tears or blinking. Objects like dust, debris, sand, eyelashes, makeup, flying objects and contact lenses enter the eye and may cause irritation or cuts.


  • Redness
  • Itching and irritation
  • Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Photosensitivity


If a foreign object lodges into your eye, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Place the rim of a small cup on the base of your eye to thoroughly rinse your eye with saline solution or clean water. You can also place your head under a shower with your eyelids open.

If another person is affected by a foreign object in the eye, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands properly with soap and water.
  2. Allow the person to sit down in a properly illuminated area.
  3. Carefully inspect the eye to find the dislodged object. Pull the casualty’s lower eyelid downwards and ask him to look up.
  4. Gently pull the upper eyelid when the person looks down. If the object is resting on the tear film, it will stick to the under surface of the upper eyelid.
  5. Use a medical solution, eye lens solution or eye drops to flush the object out, if it is lying on the tear film. If eye drops are not available, place the casualty’s head under a slow stream of lukewarm water to dislodge the object.


  • It is natural to feel itchiness or irritation when an object lies on the eyeball. However, make sure you do NOT rub your eyes as rubbing may damage the surface of the eye and cause serious corneal damage.
  • If the object is embedded in the eye, do not try to remove it.
  • Do not try to remove the object if it is large enough to disrupt blinking. Seek medical help immediately.

When to seek medical attention

  • You are not able to remove the object resting on the surface of the eye.
  • The foreign object has pierced through the eyeball.
  • There are vision-related changes such as blurred vision or the casualty is seeing lights
  • Irritation, redness, pain and feeling of the object’s presence persist even if the object has been removed.

Where to Learn More

To learn more about providing first aid for the eye take workplace approved training courses. The following courses teach participants about recognizing and managing emergencies relating to the eye.


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