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Eye Foreign Body

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.


An eye foreign body (EFB)

is an object that gets stuck in your eye. Tiny pieces of metal, dust, wood, and sand are the most common foreign bodies.

Eye Anatomy

Signs and symptoms:

  • The feeling that something is in your eye
  • Eye pain, redness, or watering
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision or changes in your vision

Seek care immediately if:

  • You suddenly lose your vision.
  • You have severe eye pain.

Call your doctor or ophthalmologist if:

  • You have new or worse eye swelling.
  • Your symptoms do not get better, even after the foreign body is removed.
  • You have white or yellow fluid draining from your eye.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for an EFB

will include medicine to decrease pain and prevent an infection. Your healthcare provider may numb your eye and flush it with liquid to help remove the FB. The provider may also use a cotton swab or other tools to help remove the FB. If the FB is hard to remove or has damaged deeper parts of your eye, you will need surgery to remove it.

Help your eye heal:

You may have pain, sensitivity to light, or blurry vision for a few days. Do the following to help your eye heal:

  • Do not rub your eye. This may cause more damage or infection.
  • Do not wear your contacts lenses until your eye heals. Ask your healthcare provider how long to follow this direction.
  • Wear sunglasses as directed. Sunglasses help protect the eye and decrease sensitivity to light.

Prevent another EFB:

  • Wear safety glasses, eye shields, or goggles. These items can prevent eye injury. Make sure the eyewear wraps around the sides of your face. Wear these items while you work with chemicals, metal, wood, or bodily fluids such as blood. Also wear protective eyewear during sports such as racquetball or swimming. Do not use regular eye glasses for eye protection. They will not protect your eyes from foreign bodies or chemicals.
  • Use contact lenses as directed. Wash your hands before you clean, insert, or remove your contacts. Insert and remove contact lenses correctly. Clean and change your contacts as directed to help prevent eye damage or infection.

Follow up with your doctor or ophthalmologist in 1 to 2 days:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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.

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