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5 Ways to Get Something Out of Your Eye Safely

Jamie Mendiola

Written By:

Jamie Mendiola

Updated: 19 May 2024 •  
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Have you ever experienced getting something annoying in your eye that a simple blink or hand rub can’t remove? Well, you’re not alone.
 
Thing is – experts warn people against eye-rubbing, since it can cause more pain.
 
So, let’s put your question to rest once and for all. Scroll down to learn more about what you should do when something’s stuck in your eye.

Common causes of getting something stuck in your eye

Girl Avoiding Pollen By Closing Her Eyes

Pollen is one of the common things that get caught in the eyes.

 
Feeling like you have something stuck in your eye can be the most annoying thing ever. Usually, people deal with it by rubbing their eyes vigorously. However, if that little ‘something’ in your eye decides to hang on for its dear life, it might fester into an eye risk.
 
These are some of the most common things that can get stuck in your eyes:
 

  • Dirt particles
  • Pollen
  • Makeup particles that fell out
  • Tiny bits of metal
  • Dried ‘eye boogers’ that built up in the corner of your eye, especially after a long nap
  • Little bugs
  • Animal or human hair, like an eyelash
  • Contact lenses

 
It also doesn’t help if you’re someone who smokes a lot. Smoking can cause poisonous chemicals and other substances to hit your eyes without any warning, making them irritated and dry all day.
 
If you leave whatever’s clinging to your eye in there for too long, it can pose some serious health risks, such as:
 

 

Tips for avoiding foreign objects in the eye

 
As we all know, prevention is the best cure. To keep foreign objects out of your eye as much as possible, carry a pair of protective eyewear with you always.
 
If you’re going to dusty locations or working with heavy-duty tools, a simple pair of sunglasses won’t cut it. Just like construction workers, you need a sturdy pair of safety glasses to get the job done.
 
On the other hand, if you’re working with harsh chemicals, you should wear a pair of lab goggles like the ones you see on scientists.
 

Symptoms of having something in the eye

man scratching his itchy eye

Itchiness is one of the most noticeable symptoms that something is in your eye.

 
It’s not that difficult to determine if you’ve got something in your eye. For the most part, you’ll have the natural instinct to remove it.
 
However, if you’re unsure, here are some of the common signs that something is stuck in your eye:
 

  • Watery eyes
  • A sudden burning or sharp sensation in your eye
  • Feeling a slight weight on the surface of your eye, due to the foreign object
  • A scratchy feeling whenever you blink
  • Irritation
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Blurred vision or partial loss of vision
  • Increased sensitivity to bright lights
  • Obvious bleeding into the white of the eye, also known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage

 
At times, a foreign object in your eye may even require immediate medical attention. Here are the warning signs:
 

  • The foreign object doesn’t come out of your eye
  • The pain or discomfort persists longer than a day
  • Severe injury to the eye, like a puncture or a chemical burn
  • Your eye is in pain or has a discharge
  • A high degree of visual impairment or complete loss of vision

 

5 ways to get something out of your eye

flush eyes with water to get something out of eyes

Flushing the foreign object away with water is one of the most effective methods.

 

1. Flush it away with water

 
The most common fix is also the safest and most hygienic one, which is to use clean water to flush the foreign object out of your eye. It also doubles up as a way to get dirt off your face and keep it from entering your eyes.  
 
Here’s how to do it;
 

  • Go to the nearest sink and fill up a small cup with water.
  •  

  • Gently place the rim of the cup near your affected eye.
  •  

  • Slowly but surely, tip your head back and let the water flow and wash into your eye.
  •  

  • Repeat these steps as many times as you need.

 
Alternatively, you can also do all of these steps in a shower. It makes the whole process much easier.
 
Also, avoid letting someone blow air into your eyes. While that might be a popular trick, it can be counterproductive and worsen your problem.
 

2. If you got no water, use an eyewash

 
If you have no time to flush something out of your eye, use an eyewash solution instead. It’s made of water and has low traces of salt, which means it’s antimicrobial and more effective against eye infections. They’re pretty cheap too, so you can bring a small bottle of eyewash anywhere you go.
 
To use, lean back and tip the nozzle near your eye. Then, squeeze the bottle and let the solution flow into your eye. Repeat as many times as necessary, until the foreign object is out and your eyes are clear.
 

3. Flutter your lashes and blink the problem away

 
In some cases, the foreign object might be hanging onto your lashes or at the outer corners of your eye. In these cases, try blinking it away.
 
When you blink repeatedly, you’re letting your protective eyelids do the work. It also triggers your tears to appear and naturally flush the object out.
 

4. Use a cotton swab or clean cloth to remove the foreign object

 
Another safe and hygienic method is to use a cotton swab or clean cloth. This way, you won’t risk spreading any bacteria or germs that may cause an infection.
 
All you have to do is look into a mirror and gently remove the foreign object with a cotton swab or clean cloth. Make sure to check all surfaces of the eye until you feel no discomfort anymore.
 

5. Apply eye drops or lubricants to help ease the foreign object out of the eye

 
Similar to an eye wash, a bottle of eye drops or lubricant can ease the discomfort in your eye. As a bonus, these are often formulated to help with other conditions too.
 
For instance, eye drops or lubricants can work like artificial tears to soothe dry eyes and treat infections. They can also alleviate allergic reactions.
 

When to seek medical help for something in your eye

eye doctor helping someone to remove foreign object out of their eyes

Call your eye doctor right away if you experience signs like persistent pain and vision impairment from the foreign object.

 
If you’re experiencing persistent pain or any of the aforementioned warning signs, seek medical attention immediately. This is especially important when at-home solutions aren’t working anymore.
 
An eye doctor is the most qualified to help and treat your vision issues. Here are some of the treatments you may be recommended:
 

  • Removal of the foreign object with water, specialized needles, or other medical instruments.
  •  

  • Usage of special eye drops, such as one that makes your eye numb.
  •  

  • X-ray or ultrasound to locate where the foreign object is stuck.
  •  

  • Antibiotics to stop an infection, if there’s one.
  •  

  • Eye patch to help your eye heal if the foreign object scratches it.

 

Getting something out of your eye shouldn’t be a hassle

For the most part, having something caught in your eye isn’t a severe situation. Removing it is rarely a hassle, and as long as you wear protective eyewear you’re in good hands.
 
However, if that little ‘something’ in your eye gets worse, don’t hesitate to call an eye doctor immediately. It may make the difference between maintaining and losing your vision.

Jamie Mendiola
Jamie is a writer and non-profit volunteer advocating for mental health. When not typing up a storm at work, you'll find her binge-watching Netflix or meditating like Yoda.