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General Information

DEFINITION--Embedding of a small speck of metal, wood, stone, sand, paint or other foreign material in the eye.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Eye, usually the conjunctiva (outer eye covering).

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Both sexes; all ages.


  • Severe pain, irritation and redness in the eye.
  • Foreign body visible with the naked eye (usually). Sometimes the foreign body is very small, trapped under the eyelid and invisible except with medical examination.
  • Scratchy feeling with blinking.



  • Windy weather.
  • Occupations or activity, such as carpentry or grinding, in which fine particles of wood or other materials fly loose in the air.

HOW TO PREVENT--Wear protective eye coverings if your occupation or hobby involves the risk of eye injury.

What To Expect


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor. This may include staining the eye with a harmless substance (fluorescein) to outline the object and examine the eye through a magnifying lens.


  • Doctor's treatment.
  • The procedure to remove the object will be determined by its size and location within the eye.
  • An eye patch will be applied to keep the eye closed.
  • Follow-up examination should be done in 1 to 2 days.
  • Self-care after removal of the particle.


  • Infection, especially if the foreign body is not removed completely.
  • Severe, permanent vision damage caused by penetration of deeper eye layers.

PROBABLE OUTCOME--Most objects can be removed simply under local anesthesia in a doctor's office or emergency room.

How To Treat


  • Ask someone else to drive you to the doctor's office. Don't try to drive yourself.
  • Don't rub the eye.
  • Keep the eye closed, if possible, until you are examined.
  • Wear an eye patch to keep the eye closed, or dark glasses, for 24 hours after removal to protect your eye from bright light.

MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointment to prevent infection.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Local anesthetic eye drops.

ACTIVITY--Resume your normal activities gradually after removal of the foreign body and the patch, if one is applied.

DIET--No special diet.

Call Your Doctor If

  • You have a foreign body in the eye.
  • The following occurs after removal: Pain increases or does not disappear in 2 days. You develop a fever. Your vision changes.
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