The cornea is a clear covering over the iris, the colored part of your eye. A corneal foreign body is a common injury that occurs when the clear layer that covers the front part of the eye is scratched or poked resulting in a foreign body being embedded on its surface. Objects that commonly cause this injury include dust, plastic, metallic shavings, and sand. The main symptoms are eye pain, a feeling of something in the eye or under the lid, a watery eye, and sensitivity to light. Corneal foreign bodies need to be removed by an ophthalmologist under a slit lamp biomicroscope. Healing may take place in 1 to 2 weeks.
Further treatment can include:
Antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be needed to soothe the eye and prevent infection. Drops that numb your eye (anesthetic drops) should not be used repeatedly because they delay healing. Drops that dilate the pupil for 1-2 days are sometimes used to relieve pain.
Patching the eye can reduce irritation from blinking and bright light. When your eye is patched, you should not drive or operate machinery because your side vision and ability to judge distances is decreased.
Rest your eye. Stay in a darkened room and wear sunglasses to avoid bright light.
Do not rub your eye for the next 2 weeks to allow proper healing.
If you have contact lenses, do not wear them until your doctor says it is safe. Metal objects in the eye sometimes form a rust deposit; this may have to be removed for the eye to heal. A tetanus shot may be needed if it has been over 10 years since your last booster. Please return if you have increased pain or persistent irritation and blurred vision over the next 2 days.
You must follow up as soon as possible if not better.
- Am Fam Physician. 2007 Apr 1;75(7):1017-22. Review. PMID: 17427615
- Optom Clin. 1991;1(4):59-70. Review. PMID: 1799836
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