You have probably, at some point in your life, felt the alarming discomfort of getting something in your eye. Your immediate response may be to rub the eye with a great sense of urgency. If there is a piece of debris stuck in your eye, this knee-jerk reaction may be dangerous and cause further damage. The act of rubbing will only drag the foreign object across the cornea, scratching the surface and presenting further complications. What’s the big deal? The cornea is the clear portion of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil; it contains many nerve endings and is therefore very sensitive, so scraping it can cause excruciating pain.
There is, however, a proper and safe method to flushing small particles that get stuck in the eye.
1) Firstly, if you feel that you may have dirt particles stuck in the eye, you can blink a few times to dislodge the object. Ask a friend to check the eye for any visible debris. It’s helpful to travel to a well-lit environment for increased clarity.
2) Before touching the eyelids or using your hands to deal with the eyes in any way, first be sure to have clean hands to prevent more bacteria from entering the eye and risking an infection.
3) Close your lids and get a tissue. If the blinking did not work, your eye is probably increasing its tear production at this point – the body’s natural response to flush out unwanted debris. Using the tissue, gently blot to remove the overflow from excess tear production. The more tears you produce, the greater the chance of removing the object – so thinking of something sad to make yourself cry may even be a solution!
4) Stretch the upper eyelid and pull down over the lower lid, then blink repeatedly. This will allow the lashes from the lower eyelid to brush away unwanted debris.
5) If the sensation persists, or you are having difficulty producing tears naturally, irrigate the eye with saline solution or artificial tears, or rinse with clean water. You can also rest the provoked side of your face in a pan of lukewarm water, and blink the eye underwater a few times to wash out the dirt, or hold the eye under a stream of running water, using your fingers to keep the eyelids apart.
You should see a medical professional if the pain persists and it still feels like there is something in your eye, if your vision is cloudy or blurred, or if your eye continues to tear after you have washed it out.
What are some of the top causes of debris falling into your eyes? For starters, makeup can be quite a culprit, as can dust. Additionally, if you fail to routinely clean out your contact lens case and regularly replace it, dust and bacteria can build up. For an alternative, consider switching to lens that are replaced on a daily basis, like the Acuvue 1 Day Moist contacts.