Injuries to the eye are the most common preventable cause of blindness, so when in doubt, err on the side of caution and call your doctor for help.
You can treat many minor eye irritations by flushing the eye with water, but more serious injuries require medical attention.
What to Do:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the eyelids to examine or flush the eye.
- Do not touch, press, or rub the eye itself, and do whatever you can to keep your child from touching it (a baby can be swaddled as a preventive measure).
- Do not try to remove any foreign body except by flushing, because of the risk of scratching the surface of the eye, especially the cornea.
- Tilt the child's head over a basin or sink with the affected eye down and gently pull down the lower lid, encouraging the child to open his or her eyes as wide as possible. For an infant or small child, it's helpful to have a second person hold the child's eyes open while you flush.
- Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water (do not heat the water) from a pitcher or faucet over the eye.
- Flush for up to 15 minutes, checking the eye every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.
- Because a particle can scratch the cornea and cause an infection, the eye should be examined by a doctor if there continues to be any irritation afterward.
- If a foreign body is not dislodged by flushing, it will probably be necessary for a trained medical professional to flush the eye.
Embedded Foreign Body
If an object, such as a piece of glass or metal, is sticking out of the eye, take the following steps:
- Call for emergency medical help or bring the child to the emergency room.
- Cover the affected eye with a small cup taped in place. The point is to keep all pressure off the eye.
- Keep your child (and yourself) as calm and comfortable as possible until help arrives.
Share this article