First Aid For Foreign Bodies In The Eye

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The human eye gives us the sense of sight, enabling us to learn more about the physical world and making daily activities easier. We use it every day and in almost everything we do, which puts it at greater risk for damage.

Composed of very delicate parts, our eyes are among the most sensitive parts of the human body. Although the human eye is equipped with anatomical parts and reflexes that protect its delicate structures, foreign bodies can inadvertently get into the eye which can lead to eye injury.

Embedded ojbect in eye
It is important to be careful when managing any eye injury or irritation.

There are many types of foreign bodies that can get lodged in the eye: a loose eyelash, misplaced contact lens, a speck of dust, and just about any tiny items. While foreign objects in the eye do not always lead into an emergency, they can cause severe discomfort or pain, and even serious damage to eyes.

Symptoms of Foreign Bodies in the Eye

  • Discomfort or pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Coarse feeling in the eye
  • Spasms of the eyelids
  • Soreness and watery eyes

First Aid Treatment

In most cases, these foreign bodies can be easily rinsed off. However, when providing first aid for any eye injuries, your main goal is to prevent further damage to the eyes and get medical help as soon as possible.

If the embedded object can be manipulated and there is no visible injury or bleeding:

  1. Assist the person on his back or in a sitting position with head overextending to the back. Keep the head stable and prevent movement by holding it.
  2. Stand behind the person and gently open up the eyelids using your thumb and finger.
  3. Check every part of the eye by asking the person to look left, right, up and down.
  4. If the foreign body is on the white of the eye:
  • Flush it out using a sterile eye-wash bath (if available) or clean water poured from a glass.
  • Ask the person to incline towards the injured side and place pad or towel over the shoulder.
  • Continue to pour water from the nose bridge, allowing the object to be flushed
  • If this fails, then use a moist swab or the damp corner of a hanky or tissue to lift the object off the white part of the eye.
  • If still unsuccessful, seek medical assistance.

5. If the foreign body is under the upper eyelid:

  • Ask the person to pull down the upper lid towards the lower lid.
  • Eyelashes of the lower lid may brush off the foreign body.

6. If bleeding or serious eye injury is apparent, or if the embedded object is large:

  • Instruct the person to keep his eye still, focused towards one direction to prevent movement of the injured eye.
  • Never try to manipulate the object embedded in the eye. If it is long, such as a stick, pen and other elongated objects, gently support it from its base to avoid movement.
  • If the object is small but cannot be flushed out using water or bleeding is apparent, place a clean pad over but do not push down. Bandage may be used to hold the pad in place.

Take note that these are just the basic guidelines for first aid treatment, for added skills it is recommended that you complete first aid training courses available through your local St Mark James Chapter.

Using A Eye Wash Station

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