If you think about it, eyelids and eyelashes may not seem like a good enough layer of protection to keep something so important and sensitive like the eyes safe. But truth be told, they are extremely effective in preventing external objects from entering our eyes and eventually causing any damage. And if something finds a way into your eye, it starts producing tears to get rid of it quickly. Most times, this system works perfectly. But when it doesn’t, it can be extremely uncomfortable or even painful.
Having something stuck in your eyes can also lead to severe damage if you don’t safely remove it. Here’s how to get dirt and debris out of your eye without endangering your eye health.
1. Wash Your Hands
This is the first thing you should do as soon as you realize you have something stuck in your eye. Our hands are usually full of germs, and the eye region is very sensitive and a gateway for bacteria and viruses. To avoid further eye problems such as infections, wash your hands thoroughly.
Here’s how you should do it:
- First, wet your hands with water.
- Rub and scrub your hands for 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands and then Dry them.
That’s it. Now you can worry about taking the object out of your eye.
Warning: if you wear contact lenses, take it out of the affected eye as soon as you wash your hands so they won’t get scratched. In some cases, this sensation of having a foreign object in the eye can even be caused by a torn contact lens.
2. Look In The Mirror
Get in front of a mirror in a well-lit room, use your clean hands to open your eye, and try to find the object. If you don’t know what’s stuck in your eye, this step can be important to identify it. Be very careful, and don’t forget to pull your lower lid down and lift your upper lid to check if the object is stuck in there. Depending on the object’s size and its location inside the eye, you might easily remove it with your fingers.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Please don’t try to do it if the object is not easily accessible, since you run the risk of causing an eye injury.
Additional tip: ask a friend or a family member to help you out. This person may be able to identify the threat more easily and perhaps even remove it. Just make sure whoever is going to help you washes his hands properly before touching your face.
3. Blink, Don’t Rub
Considering the annoying (and sometimes even desperate) sensation caused by an object that gets stuck in the eye, your first reaction may be to rub the eye in an attempt to get rid of it. Please don’t do it. This movement is extremely aggressive and can cause further damage to your eye. Instead, try to slowly blink several times.
In the vast majority of the cases, this natural movement, together with the tears produced as a defense mechanism, is enough to cause the object to come loose and eventually be flushed out. This is the safest way to remove an eyelash from your eyes.
4. Use A Cotton Swab
If the particle is stuck in your eyelid’s inner part, the easiest and safest way to remove it is using a damp cotton swab. Try to hold your eyelid with one finger so that you can see the piece of debris and gently roll the cotton swab over it. If everything goes according to plan, the particle should stick to the swab.
5. Eye Rinse
If none of the previous options succeed, you can try one more thing: submerging your eyes in clean water. Here’s how to wash your eyes safely:
• Using an eyecup: this is a small cup with a curved rim specifically designed to apply liquid remedies to the eyes. You can find it available in any pharmacy or drugstore. Fill the cup halfway with plain, lukewarm water (or eyewash if you have any) and place the cup over your eye with your head bowed down. Apply moderate pressure to prevent the water from leaking and tilt your head back. Move your eye in slow circular motions to allow the liquid to reach every part of it. Don’t forget to wash it carefully before using it – that should go without saying!
• Using a bowl of water: fill a large bowl with lukewarm water, submerge your head in it, open your eyes underwater, and do those circular motions we already mentioned. Alternatively, you can also use the bathroom sink. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you wash it in advance.
• Using the shower or the tap: if you are brave enough, you can put your eyes under running water with your head tilted one side. It works. Just be careful with the water pressure.
6. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
In some cases, the wisest thing is to seek medical help immediately. Here are some of those situations:
- The stuck object struck your eyes at a very high speed and caused severe pain.
- The stuck object is sharp (shard of glass, tiny metal piece, etc.).
- The stuck object is a toxic chemical – in this case, use one of the methods listed above to flush the eye with water for about 20 minutes (preferably the one that uses running water).
- You have severe pain or abnormal vision even though you have removed the object carefully.
Being treated quickly by a health professional can be the difference between continuing to have healthy eyes or permanent damage.