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If you have something stuck in your eye, you may be able to use a simple wash method to help get it out.

However, there are certain times when you may need to go to the emergency room, like:

  • if there’s an object stuck in your eye
  • you have a serious eye injury
  • you think you have a chemical burn to your eye

Before you decide to rub your eye, it’s important to know what may actually helpyou get something out of your eye and what may make it worse.

Here are ways to help yourself or someone else when something is in an eye.

A variety of items can get into your eye. This might include:

  • everyday objects
  • chemicals
  • contact lenses

As long as these aren’t embedded in your eyelid or eyeball and haven’t caused any significant injuries, you may be able to safely remove them at home. Here’s how:

How to remove an object from your eye

Sometimes, moving your eyes around with your lids shut or blinking rapidly for a few seconds may be enough to get a foreign object out of your eye.

If these methods fail, consider first aid for removing an object from your eye. This involves an irrigation method, which relies on the use of water or saline solution to flush objects out, such as:

  • dirt or sand
  • dust
  • grass
  • bugs
  • animal fur

First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You may flush the object out of your eye with two methods:

  • A cup of water. Fill a clean cup with lukewarm water. Place the rim of the cup on the bottom of your eye socket and gently pour, creating a stream of water through your eye.
  • A shower head. Stand under a steady but gentle stream of water in your shower as you hold your eyelid open. Make sure the water stream is on a soft stream setting.

Repeat the flushing method for several minutes at a time or until you no longer feel the object stuck in your eye.

Removing chemicals from your eye

To remove soap, shampoo, or cosmetics from your eye, you may use one of the two flushing methods above.

In the case of household or professional-grade chemicals, rinse your eyes for 15 minutes and seek professional medical help immediately for advice on your next steps.

Supplies to keep in your first aid kit for eye care

Here’s a roundup of the essential eye care items to keep in your first aid kit:

  • saline solution
  • eye irrigation kit
  • distilled water
  • medicine dropper
  • sterile gauze
  • an eye patch

What to do if you wear contacts

Remove your contact lenses before flushing your eyes with water. This helps to ensure a better irrigation process.

Also, double-check your contacts to make sure the object you’re trying to remove isn’t stuck on the actual lens. You may need to replace your lenses if something has torn or damaged them.

It’s possible for your contact lens to become stuck in your eye. In this case, you’ll need to use the irrigation method described above to help remove your lens.

If your lens is still stuck, talk with a healthcare professional for help.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), about 2.4 million eye injury cases occur each year.

They attribute these injuries to:
35 percent related to foreign objects
25 percent caused by bruises (contusions)
25 percent are caused by wounds
15 percent are caused by burns

If you have a foreign object stuck in your eye, you may decrease the risk for injuries and infections by getting it out as quickly as possible.

It’s also possible for a stuck object to become infected. The AAO estimates that about 1 million people seek medical help for eye infections each year. Most of these cases are related to contact lenses.

Seek medical care right away if your eye discomfort is related to metal, glass, or chemicals. Healthcare professionals will help safely remove the object or agent to reduce the risk of long-term risks such as impaired vision.

Irrigation methods are preferable for everyday objects stuck in the eye. They can help remove objects without causing injury.

Here’s a list of what not to do:

  • Don’t use dirty hands. Wash your hands before flushing out your eye. Using dirty hands may inadvertently get more objects in your eye or possibly lead to infection.
  • Don’t scratch or rub your eye. Rubbing may cause the object to scratch or tear your cornea, risking worse injury, infection, and discomfort.
  • Don’t use a towel or other piece of cloth. Using cloth or tissues to try to remove the object can lead to further eye scratching, tears, and discomfort.
  • Don’t apply pressure to your eye. Applying pressure may lead to damage or worse injury.
  • Don’t attempt to remove any embedded objects. Leave this task up to a medical professional.

Call a healthcare provider if you are unable to get a foreign object out of your eye yourself or if the object is embedded directly in your eye. They will likely be able to get the object out safely before it causes any complications.

Even if you are successful in removing something from your eye, you should see a doctor if you develop any changes to your eyes or vision. Some of these concerning symptoms may include:

  • persistent eye redness
  • pain
  • bleeding from the eye
  • a feeling of fullness, as if the object is still stuck
  • blurriness and other signs of abnormal vision
Seek medical care if

Not all cases of foreign objects in the eye are treatable at home. Seek medical care if you:

  • have an object embedded in your eyeball, or sticking out between your lids
  • have metal or glass stuck in your eye
  • have burns from chemical particles stuck in your eye
  • have been in an accident that has damaged your eye
  • are bleeding from the eye
  • have had a recent fall, head trauma, or another injury
  • think you have a detached retina

Go to the ER or call 911 immediately for a serious injury or burn.

Getting everyday objects, such as dirt and dust, in your eyes is extremely common. Even getting shampoo or soap in your eyes once in a while isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Once you remove these items, you shouldn’t experience any lasting eye damage or vision changes.

It’s also possible to have the sensation of something stuck in your eye despite the object being removed. This is likely attributed to a scratch on your eye. You may have this feeling for up to 24 hours after removal.

Your prognosis may vary if you don’t remove an object stuck inside your eye, or if you don’t seek prompt medical attention for extensive injuries and burns.

Infections are also possible if you don’t remove foreign objects in a timely manner.

To prevent eye injury, it’s important to wear protective eye gear whenever possible. According to a 2019 research review, studies have consistently shown that doing so can significantly reduce your risk for eye injury.

Everyone is vulnerable to getting something stuck in their eyes, even if it’s a seemingly harmless object. Knowing how to get something out of your eye — and when to see a healthcare professional for help — is critical in preventing further injury or infection.

Flushing your eye out at home can help, but if your eye is already injured or burned, seek emergency medical attention right away. This may help prevent complications to your overall eye health.