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Corneal Foreign Body


  • A corneal foreign body happens when something gets stuck on your cornea. The cornea is the clear outer covering of your eye. A foreign body may scratch the cornea and causes symptoms. A corneal foreign body is a serious problem that needs treatment to prevent eye damage.
    Picture of a normal eye
  • Anything that gets stuck in your eye may cause a corneal foreign body. Tiny pieces of metal, wood, or sand are the most common causes. A feeling that something is in your eye is often the only symptom. Other signs and symptoms may include a painful red eye, tearing, and blurred vision. Treatment includes washing the eye to try to remove the corneal foreign body. If eye washing does not work, instruments may be needed to remove the foreign body. You may need an eye patch on your eye to help it heal.


You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


A corneal foreign body left untreated may make your symptoms worse. Rust rings or stains may form on your cornea and could affect your vision. If it is not removed, the foreign body may cause an infection or eye damage. Ask your caregiver if you have questions about your condition and its treatment.


Informed consent:

You have the right to understand your health condition in words that you know. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat your condition. Your doctor should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments, or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to you. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.


You may have the following:

  • Eye medicines: Eye drops may be used to dilate (open) the pupil and decrease pain. The pupil is the part of the eye where light passes.
  • Pain medicines: You may receive medicine to decrease or take away your pain.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by germs called bacteria.


You may need the following:

  • Computerized tomography scan: This test is also called a CT or CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your eyes.
  • Slit-lamp test: This test uses a microscope so caregivers can look into your eye. A fluorescein paper strip may be used to help caregivers clearly see a corneal scratch.
  • Ultrasound: This is a test using sound waves to find the corneal foreign body. Pictures of your eyes show up on a TV-like screen.
  • Visual acuity test: This test checks your vision and eye movements.

Treatment options:

  • Irrigation: Water is used to try to flush out the foreign body.
  • Instrumentation: Instruments may be used to remove the foreign body if irrigation does not work. Numbing medicine will be put on your eye before caregivers use instruments.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Corneal Foreign Body (Inpatient Care)

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