Tips to Safely Remove Foreign Objects from Eyes
1. Wash your eyes
When dealing with a chemical splash or spill, eyewash should be your first remedy. Time is of the essence when dealing with acidic or basic chemicals like bleach or vinegar. Even shampoo and soap can cause eye irritation. These chemicals can quickly damage sensitive eye tissue and cause potentially serious effects.
Luckily, eyewash stations are installed in most labs, schools, and clinics. However, if you are exposed to chemicals at home, running water from a sink or faucet is acceptable. Be sure that the water is clean and cool. Continuously rinse the eyes with water for 5 to 20 minutes. If you wear contact lenses, remove them while doing the eyewash. Contact a doctor or emergency services if symptoms persist.
2. Blink, blink, blink
Our bodies have natural reactions to certain stimuli. Because the eyes are highly innervated, even the smallest grain of sand or fiber can be uncomfortable. One of the first reactions of the eyes is to blink. Blinking occurs very quickly and can prevent entry of incoming particles. In the case a foreign object is able to hit the eye, blinking enough times usually dislodges it. The more you blink, the more likely you will be able to remove the object without touching your eyes.
3. Cry it out
In addition to blinking, tearing up is another reaction to eye irritants. Chemical and physical substances that enter the eye trigger increased tear production. This is another safety mechanism of the eye to prevent damage and maintain lubrication. An ample amount of tears helps to flush out and dilute the offending material. Allow your eyes to water a bit instead of rubbing or immediately drying them. However, if a chemical enters your eye, proceed immediately with an eyewash.
4. Try soft, sanitary tools
Unfortunately, blinking and tearing up are not always enough to remove foreign bodies from the eye. For larger objects like hair or insects, using a clean, unused tissue or cotton swab can help. The fibers of these can effectively grab or push away the debris. Make gentle dabbing or sweeping motions while holding the tissue or cotton swab at an angle. Avoid injury to the eye by using a mirror and standing or sitting still. Do not touch the tip of the tissue or cotton, as this can introduce germs.