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Object in a Child's Eye: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

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 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. If the object was still in your child's eye, the doctor probably removed it during the examination. Sometimes these objects become stuck deep in the eye and require more treatment. For instance, a metal object may leave a rust ring.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • The doctor probably used medicine to numb the eye. When it wears off in 30 to 60 minutes, eye pain may come back.
  • Give your child 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. No one younger than 20 should take aspirin. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Do not give your child 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.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • The doctor may have put a patch over your child's injured eye. If so, have your child keep the eye closed under the patch. This will make the eye feel better. Do not remove the patch until the doctor tells you to.
  • If your child does not have a patch, have your child keep the hurt eye closed to reduce pain.
  • Wash your hands before touching your child's eye.
  • Make sure your child does not rub the hurt eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
  • Use the prescribed eyedrops or ointment as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean. You may want to ask another adult to help you put in eyedrops or ointment for a young child.
  • To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your child's head back, and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Have your child close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to the eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Your child should not wear a contact lens in the hurt eye until the doctor says it is okay. Also, your child should not wear eye makeup until the eye heals.
  • If your child has to wear an eye patch, he or she should not play sports, ride a bike, drive, or do other activities in which he or she would need to judge distance.
  • For the first 24 to 48 hours, have your child limit reading and other tasks that require a lot of eye movement.
  • Bright light may hurt. Wearing dark glasses may help.
  • To prevent eye injuries in the future, have your child wear safety glasses or goggles when he or she works with machines or tools, mows the lawn, or rides a bike or motorcycle.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child suddenly cannot see or can barely see.

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

  • Your child has signs of infection in the eye, such as:
    • Yellow, green, bloody, or watery discharge from the eye.
    • Increasing redness of the eye or eyelids.
    • A grey or white sore on the eye.
    • Light hurts the eye.
  • Your child has blurry vision that does not clear when he or she blinks.
  • Your child has pain in or near the eye.
  • Your child says that it feels like sand is in the eye when he or she blinks.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's eye is not better after 1 to 2 days.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as redness, swelling, or a change in vision.

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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.