Particle in the Eye

The conjunctiva is a thin membrane in the eye. It covers the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. A very small object, such as an eyelash or dirt, can become trapped under the eyelid. This is called a conjunctival foreign body. This can be very irritating to the eye, no matter how small the object is. If the exam shows that you no longer have a particle in your eye, any discomfort should go away within the next 24 hours.

Home care

Adult holding cold compress on eye.
Hold a cool compress over the sore eye to relieve pain and swelling.

  • Put a cool compress on the eye that hurts. A cool compress is a towel soaked in cool water. Do this 3 to 4 times a day. It will help ease redness and swelling. Don't apply ice directly on the eye.

  • You can use artificial tears to ease irritation and redness, unless another medicine was prescribed. You can buy artificial tears at pharmacies without a prescription.

  • You can use over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or if you ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

  • If the foreign body causes a scratch on your cornea, the healthcare provider will likely prescribe an antibiotic eye drop.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Increased swelling of the eyelid

  • Increased pain or redness in the eye

  • Fluid leaking from the eye

  • Redness in the skin around the eye

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