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Object in the Eye: Care Instructions

Overview

It is common for a speck of dirt or a small object, such as an eyelash or an insect, to get in the eye. Usually your tears wash the object out. But the speck can scratch the surface of the eye (cornea). If the eye surface is scratched, it can feel as if something is still in the eye. Most surface scratches are minor and heal on their own in a day or two.

Your doctor probably removed any objects which may have been found during your exam. Even if the object was removed by the doctor during your exam, you may still be referred to an eye specialist to make sure there aren't any small pieces deep in your eye.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • The doctor probably used medicine to numb your eye. When it wears off in 30 to 60 minutes, your eye pain may come back. Take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), as needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • The doctor may have ordered eye drops for pain. Follow the doctor's instructions when using them.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • The doctor may have put a patch over your injured eye. If so, keep your eye closed under the patch. This will make your eye feel better. Do not remove the patch until your doctor has told you to.
  • If you do not have a patch, keep your hurt eye closed to reduce pain.
  • Wash your hands before touching your eye.
  • Do not rub your injured eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
  • Use the prescribed eyedrops or ointment as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean.
  • To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not use a contact lens in your hurt eye until your doctor says you can. Also, do not wear eye makeup until your eye heals.
  • Do not drive if you are wearing an eye patch. You cannot judge distances well.
  • For the first 24 to 48 hours, limit reading and other tasks that require a lot of eye movement.
  • Bright light may hurt. It may help to wear dark glasses.
  • To prevent eye injuries in the future, wear safety glasses or goggles when you work with machines or tools, mow the lawn, or ride a bike or motorcycle.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You suddenly cannot see or can barely see.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection in the eye, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or increasing eye pain.
  • It feels like sand is in your eye when you blink.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You are not getting better after 1 day (24 hours).

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.