Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

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Eye - Foreign Body

1. Does this describe your child's symptoms?

  • Clean around the eye with a wet washcloth first.
  • Place the face under a gently running faucet or a shower. Hold the eyelid open while you do this.
  • Or, try to open and close the eye repeatedly while submerging that side of the face in a pan of water.
LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

  • Try to get the particle out with a moistened cotton swab or the corner of a moistened cloth.
  • If this does not work, then place the face under a gently running faucet or a shower. Hold the eyelids open while you do this. This should flush the particle out.
LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

  • Pull the lower eyelid out by depressing the skin above the cheekbone.
  • Touch the particle with a moistened cotton swab.
  • If that does not work, try pouring water on the speck while pulling the lower eyelid out.
LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

  • If particle cannot be seen, it's probably under the upper lid, the most common hiding place.
  • Try to open and close the eye several times while it is submerged in a pan or bowl of water.
  • If this fails, pull the upper lid out and draw it over the lower lid. This maneuver and tears will sometimes dislodge the particle.

 

LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

  • Method 1: Bend forward and close the eyes. Have someone blow on the closed eyelids to get the flakes of glass off the skin.
  • Method 2: Another technique is to touch the flakes of glass with a piece of tape. See drawing.
  • To get off any remaining glass, splash water on the eyelids and face. Cover the eyes with a wet washcloth. Do not rub your eyes.
LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions, LLC. Used by Permission.

Definition

  • A foreign body (FB) or object becomes lodged in the eye.
  • The main symptoms are irritation, pain, and tears

Causes

  • The most common objects that get in the eye are an eyelash or a piece of dried mucus (sleep).  
  • Particulate matter such as sand, dirt, sawdust, or other grit also can be blown into the eyes.

2. When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Sharp FB (Foreign Body)
  • FB is a piece of chemical
  • FB hit eye at high speed (e.g., metallic chip from hammering, lawnmower, explosion)
  • FB stuck on the eyeball (caution: do not attempt to remove)
  • FB feels like it's still present after eye has been washed out
  • Vision not back to normal after eye has been washed out
  • Tearing and blinking continue after eye has been washed out
  • Cloudy spot on the cornea (clear part of the eye)
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Minor foreign body in the eye (e.g., eyelash, dirt, sand) and you don't think your child needs to be seen (Reason: probably can be removed at home)

3. HOME CARE ADVICE FOR EYE FOREIGN BODY

  • Reassurance:
    • The foreign body will always stay in the front part of the eye.
    • Some parents needlessly worry that the foreign body can get lost behind the eyeball.
    • This is impossible, since the space beyond the eyelids goes back ¼ inch (6 mm) and then stops (i.e., it's a dead end).
  • Treatment For Numerous Particles (such as dirt or sand):
    • Clean around the eye with a wet washcloth first.
    • Then have your child try to open and close the eye repeatedly while submerging that side of the face in a pan of water.
    • If your child is too young to cooperate with this, fill a glass or pitcher with warm tap water. Pour the water into the eye while holding your child face up. The eyelids must be held open during the irrigation and this usually requires the help of another person.
  • Treatment for a Particle in a Corner of the Eye:
    • Try to get it out with a moistened cotton swab, the corner of a moistened cloth, or a small piece of Scotch tape.
  • Treatment for a Particle Under the Lower Lid:
    • Pull the lower lid out by pulling down on the skin above the cheekbone.
    • Touch the particle with a moistened cotton swab.
    • If that doesn't work, try pouring water on the speck while holding the lid out.
  • Treatment for a Particle Under the Upper Lid:
    • If the particle can't be seen, it's probably under the upper lid, the most common hiding place.
    • Try having your child open and close the eye several times while it is submerged in a pan or bowl of water.  If you have an eye cup, use it.
    • If this fails, pull the upper lid out and draw it over the lower lid while the eye is closed. When the eye is opened, the lower lid may sweep the particle out from under the upper lid.
  • Contacts: Children with contact lenses need to switch to glasses temporarily (Reason: to prevent damage to the cornea).
  • Expected Course: The discomfort, redness and excessive tearing usually pass 1 to 2 hours after the foreign body is removed.
  • Call Your Doctor If:
    • This approach does not remove all the foreign material from the eye (i.e., if the sensation of "grittiness" or pain persists)
    • Vision does not return to normal after the eye has been washed out
    • Foreign object has been removed, but tearing and blinking persist
    • Your child becomes worse
  • And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer

  • This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
  • Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
  • Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
  • Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:01:25 PM
  • Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
  • Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
If this is an emergency call 911 immediately.

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