How do I get something out of my friend's eye?
November 28, 2005 8:55 PM   Subscribe

My friend has had something in his eye for four hours.

We've tried everything we can think of, water, saline solution, eye drops, standing under the shower with eye open, closing eyes and trying to cry it out... nothing. We can't see anything in the eye either. Thoughts?
posted by ORthey to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
Maybe he has a small cut or scratch, which was caused by the foreign object before you flushed it out ?
posted by fshgrl at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2005

He probably scratched his cornea. It feels exactly like there's something in your eye, and the feeling doesn't go away until it heals. I've done it probably a half-dozen times in my lifetime. It usually takes a day to heal -- and in the meantime, your friend won't be able to open his eye.

He should visit an emergency room. I don't bother, anymore; I know what it is when it happens, and I know there's nothing they can do about it. But I'm just some guy on the internet, and if your friend has never gone through this before then he should probably visit an emergency room.
posted by cribcage at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2005

Scratched cornea. What he's feeling isn't an object, but the scratch it left behind. Go see a doctor. It can become infected.
posted by frogan at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2005

Wow, three diagnoses at exactly the same time. ;-)
posted by frogan at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2005

My thought is that you should be on your way to the doctor, not pissing about asking strangers on the internet.

FWIW, when this happened to me, there was a tiny fleck of grit right next to the edge of the iris (and hence invisible except when viewed side on). It required a doctor to remove it and to prescribe something to prevent infection.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:10 PM on November 28, 2005

If it turns out not to be a scratch, one good way to cause the eye to tear ("teer" not "tare") is to grab the upper lashes, pull the upper lid away from the eye, and down a little, then blow out sharply through your nose. I don't know why this works, but it does, and will often cause enough tearing to flush foreign objects from the eye..
posted by jimfl at 9:14 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Ophthamologist's offices will usually have same-day appointment slots reserved for such problems, so if you don't see someone now, he should be able to get an appointment in the AM tomorrow.

Just to throw it out there, here's the folk remedy I've heard to soothe eye irritation. Make yourself a spot of tea, and pour a bit into a saucer. Water it down a bit, and let it cool to room temperature, and then put your eye on it and kind of "blink in" the tea.

But if he's got something serious like a corneal scratch, I wouldn't try this (or any other self-treatment), of course. The antibiotic ointments he'd get will be much better.
posted by neda at 9:22 PM on November 28, 2005

Appropriate anecdote:

I once had a similar issue, went to the ER, and had an intern spend a painful 5 minutes tugging at a "white spot" he saw on an eyelid interior, before he called a proper doctor in, who declared the white spot a perfectly normal variation, and found the actual cause was indeed a minor cornear abrassion.
posted by nomisxid at 9:23 PM on November 28, 2005

jimfl: my eyes tear just reading your description. But, I did try it and it worked. Odd.
posted by odinsdream at 9:23 PM on November 28, 2005

If there is something in there, all the obvious techniques (that you've tried) don't really work because frustratingly where it feels like it is and where it is aren't at all related. I know this from experience because on two occasions I've had a contact lens tear and leave a small piece behind on my eyeball which has then moved back out of view between eyeball and socket. And on both occasions the only solution has been to hold both eyelids apart as wide as possible, stare at a mirror (preferably a magnifying one) for ages and hope that the foreign object literally moves into view so that you can remove it carefully.
posted by forallmankind at 9:24 PM on November 28, 2005

I had a corneal abrasion as a result of a contact lens that dried out too much while I was wearing it. A frustrating, unrelenting pain, like having a foreign object in there but worse. As already described above, the eye doctor examined it, diagnosed it, and treated it within an hour of my calling them. It heals fast on its own, but they will give you antibiotic drops to speed the process and prevent infection.

And yeah, get it looked at fast, because no matter what it is, rubbing it is bad, and who can keep from rubbing when their eye is under attack? Not me.
posted by hermitosis at 9:33 PM on November 28, 2005

Get professional attention soon. Period!

Eyes aren't like tongues that get burned with hot lattes and heal overnight or lizards' tails that drop off and regenerate quickly. You only have two and they are too dear to second guess via Internet diagnosis!
posted by thebarron at 9:49 PM on November 28, 2005

I had a piece of sand in my eye and my roomate and I did the same thing you tried with your friend, including him pulling on my eyelash and wiping it with a tissue to no avail. Ouch! I went to the doctor the next, and with a simple q-tip, he found the piece of sand, pressed the q-tip against it lightly, and got it out of there.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:15 AM on November 29, 2005

My dad had the same sensation after working in the yard this week. His eye was killing him all evening, so he finally went to the emergency room at 11 pm. Sure enough, it was a scratch; they gave him some prescription eyedrops, and by the next morning he was feeling much better.
posted by shinynewnick at 6:21 AM on November 29, 2005

sounds like a scratch. should heal overnight. seek medical help if it still bothers him tomorrow morning.
posted by lester at 6:41 AM on November 29, 2005

When I've had a small "thing" in my eye (not a cornea abrasion) I pull my upper eyelid down over my lower eyelid and that somehow gets it out. Works just about every time.

Wash your hands before trying this.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 7:12 AM on November 29, 2005

Put a qtip horizontally on the upper eyelid where it meets the bone, push in gently, and twist. It will retract the lid up so you can see under it. Repeat with the bottom lid.
posted by gramcracker at 7:25 AM on November 29, 2005

Same thing happened to me, and it also turned out to be a scratch. And I agree that your friend will still want to get it checked out - when mine didn't go away after a day or so, I eventually went to a doctor and found out that the scratch had become infected. They gave me some sort of horrible antibiotic gel that I had to actually put under my eyelid two or three times a day. It wasn't very much fun, as you might expect.
posted by emmastory at 7:48 AM on November 29, 2005

Check the corners, too. Sometimes you can get an eyelash stuck in there which is awfully hard to find.
posted by callmejay at 9:48 AM on November 29, 2005

Don't assume corneal abrasion. See a doctor. I once had the same problem, caused by a tiny metal sliver stuck in the center of my eye.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:32 AM on November 29, 2005

GO TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you don't have an ophthalmologist, call the number on the back of your health insurance card to find one in your network. They will see you that day and can either get the "foreign body" out or prescribe you drops or whatever.
posted by radioamy at 11:44 AM on November 29, 2005

He should visit an emergency room. I don't bother, anymore; I know what it is when it happens, and I know there's nothing they can do about it.

This happened to my husband, and while the piece of glass (in his case) was out, it had left a huge gash in his eye that was still hurting him. They, however, DID do something about it, which was to give him Percoset. Mmmmmm.
posted by agregoli at 12:16 PM on November 29, 2005

ORthey - What finally happened with the friend's eye? We're all curious! The B
posted by thebarron at 10:12 PM on November 29, 2005

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