Eye Matters
October 28, 2005
Foreign body in the eye

Any object that is found in the eye that should not be there is called a foreign body. The foreign body can be located in the conjunctiva (thin membrane that covers the eye externally), underneath the eyelids (especially the upper one), in the cornea or in the internal part of the eye once it has perforated it (seen mostly with metal particles).{{more}}

Based on the above mentioned we can classify them into extra ocular foreign bodies (conjunctiva, cornea and under the eyelids) and intra ocular (within the eye itself).

The extra ocular foreign bodies are usually extracted easily and do not leave any consequences whereas the intra ocular ones can provoke severe damage to the internal structures of the eye resulting in irreversible diminished vision or even loss of the same.

What are the general complaints of the patient with a foreign body to the eye? Ocular pain, teary eye, red eye, excessive blinking and sensation of foreign body are some of the most common ones.

How is the diagnosis made and what is the subsequent treatment? First and foremost it is very important to listen to what the patient refers to us about the history. After that, a local anesthetic drop is placed in the eye and the physician can begin to look for the presence of the foreign body. If this is confirmed in the external part of the eye, it is removed manually and the cornea is then tinted with a substance called fluorescein to detect any erosion or scratches on the cornea, on which if found, antibiotic ointment is placed and the eye covered for twenty-four hours.

In the case where the foreign body is lodged in the internal part of the eye, the management is to be done exclusively by the ophthalmologist because, as we have mentioned before, the prognosis is occasionally unfavorable due to the location and the damage produced.

No one is exempted from having a foreign body in the eye at any point and time but this is much more frequent in those individuals who work in the open air, construction workers, carpenters, lathe operators, gardeners etc. This is why it is very important that these persons use protective eyewear on

the job to avoid any accidents.