The most common foreign bodies that enter the eye include small particles of metal, wood or dust. Some conditions, such as windy weather, carpentry or industrial work, gardening, or some special sports, increase the risk of foreign bodies entering the eye. In order to prevent foreign bodies entering your eyes, it is better to use protective glasses or eye shields in these conditions and avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands or gloves as small particles of metal or wood may be attached to them.
Note: If you feel that a foreign body has entered your eye, never use any anesthetic drops and see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If corneal or conjuctival foreign bodies are not removed in a timely manner, they can cause prolonged pain and lead to complications such as infection and ocular necrosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Corneal and Conjuctival Foreign Bodies?
• Pain and eye irritation, which may be mild, moderate, or severe and may increase with the eye or eyelid movement.
• Foreign body sensation
• Patients may also complain of blurred vision.
How Are Corneal Foreign Bodies Diagnosed?
• Slit-Lamp examination: If the foreign body that enters your eyes is metallic, an ophthalmologist can usually observe a rusty ring around the foreign body to the eye.
• Using fluorescein eye stain: When an ophthalmologist sees your eyes under ultraviolet rays, fluorescein eye stain can show a corneal perforation and the aqueous humor that leaks from the corneal defect. Positive result of the test, which is called Seidel Sign, shows that an anterior chamber leakage in the cornea is present. In this situation the patient should be referred promptly to an ophthalmic center, where has experienced retina specialists.
• Measuring visual acuity
• If the foreign body is very small and can not be seen through the above methods, a CT scan alone or with along an ultrasonography is necessary.
How Are Corneal Foreign Bodies Treated?
• Using local anesthetic drops
• Removal of the foreign body should be done by an ophthalmologist generally under guidance with a slit lamp. It is usually done using a thin needle that the ophthalmologist may make some changes on it. It is even better not to remove the foreign body with cotton-tipped swabs, because they scratch a larger surface of the cornea.
• Applying antibiotic ointment and pressure dressing. Some ophthalmologists put a dressing on the affected eye because less eye movement reduces the possibility of further corneal injury and patient’s pain.
• The patient should be examined every day until complete recovery of the foreign body site due to the possibility of eye infection.
• Anesthetic drops should never be prescribed for pain control, as they can slow and may even prevent epithelial healing and even lead to permanent scarring in diseased and injured corneas and, in the event of further injuries, prevent the onset of symptoms.
• Using corticosteroid drops is prohibited because it can delay the recovery process and increase the risk of eye infection.
It is necessary to avoid the following actions before visiting an ophthalmologist:
• Avoid rubbing your eyes and try to keep your eyes closed.
• Do not wear contact lenses.
• Avoid excessive blinking because it can cause more irritation.