If a foreign object such as a speck of dust or grit enters your child’s eye, it will water and your child will not want to open it. If you can see something moving loosely over the white part, you can try to remove it. If, however, the foreign object is embedded in the eyeball or is on the coloured part of the eye (the iris), don’t touch it.
- Watery eye
- Reluctance to open the eye
- Pain and irritation
- A visible embedded object
Is it serious?
Small specks of dust or grit in the eye are not serious since they are washed out naturally by the tears. But if your child’s eyeball is scratched, if an object has pierced it, or if there is any kind of cut on the eyeball or eyelid, this is serious. If there is an object in the eyeball, do not try to take it out yourself. Take your child to your nearest hospital emergency department for treatment.
What should I do first?
Look closely to see whether the foreign object is moving or embedded in the eye. Encourage your child to blink a few times—this may dislodge it, as may tears if he has been crying because of the pain and irritation. If the foreign object is embedded in the eye Do not attempt first aid treatment yourself. Keep your child’s eye closed by putting a pad over the eyelid and taping it securely in place. Go straight to the nearest hospital emergency department for treatment.
If the foreign object is not embedded in the eye
- Ask your child to look upward. Pull down the eyelid to see if the object is there. If it is, remove it with the corner of a clean handkerchief.
- Expose the area beneath the top lid by holding the eyelashes and pulling them back. Remove the object with the corner of a handkerchief. If your child won’t cooperate, you will need someone to help you. Seek medical assistance if necessary.
- If these methods don’t work, try to flush the foreign object out by gently pouring a glass of clean water across the open eye.
Should I seek medical help?
Go at once to the nearest emergency department if the eyeball is scratched, or if a foreign object has pierced the eye. Seek medical advice immediately if you cannot easily remove a floating foreign object from your child’s eye.
What might the doctor do?
- The hospital doctor will remove the embedded foreign object from your child’s eye after putting drops of a local anaesthetic into the eye.
- If the eyeball is scratched, the doctor will prescribe antibiotic drops to guard against infection and may bandage the eye to keep it closed for about 24 hours.
What can I do to help?
- After the removal of the foreign object, the pain should ease in an hour or so. If it doesn’t, seek advice as soon as possible.