Foreign Object in the Cornea - Fairview Health Services
 
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Foreign Object in the Cornea

Your cornea is the clear layer on the front of your eyeball. It focuses light and helps protect your eye from dust and germs. A foreign object can lodge in the cornea itself. A trapped speck of dirt or grit is often a minor problem. But anything metal or an object that pierces the cornea can cause severe damage.

Side view cross section of front of eye showing iris, pupil, and foreign object stuck in cornea.

When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)

The longer you wait, the greater the chance of injury or infection. Seek emergency medical treatment right away for:

  • A particle in the eye that you can't flush out with water.

  • An eye that remains very swollen or painful after an object has been removed.

  • An object embedded in the eye (cover both eyes with a sterile compress and call 911).

What to Expect in the ER

  • A doctor will ask about the injury and examine the eye.

  • Anesthetic eyedrops may be given to ease any discomfort.

  • A microscope with a bright light is used to help examine the eyeball. A special dye (fluorescein dye) may be placed on the cornea to help see the embedded object more clearly.

  • A loose foreign object may be removed.

  • Severe injuries are likely to be treated by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Follow-up

Call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms after returning home:

  • Fever over 101°F (38.3°C)

  • Increased redness or eye pain

  • Drainage from your eye

  • Blurred or decreased vision

 

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