The eye will often flush out tiny objects, like eyelashes and sand, through blinking and tearing. Do not rub the eye if there is something in it. Wash your hands before examining it.
Examine the eye in a well-lighted area. To find the object, look up and down, then from side to side.
If you can't find the object, grasp the lower eyelid and gently pull down on it to look inside the lower eyelid. To look inside the upper lid, you can place a cotton-tipped swab on the outside of the upper lid and gently fold the lid over the cotton swab.
If the object is on an eyelid, try to gently flush it out with water or eye drops. If that does not work, try touching a second cotton-tipped swab to the object to remove it.
If the object is on the white of the eye, try gently rinsing the eye with water or eye drops. Or you can GENTLY touch a cotton swap to the object to try to remove it. If the object is on the colored part of the eye, do NOT attempt to remove it. Your eye may still feel scratchy feeling or uncomfortable after removing an eyelashes or other tiny object. This should go away within a day or two. If you continue to have discomfort or blurred vision, get medical help.
Contact your health care provider and do NOT treat yourself if:
You have a lot eye pain or sensitivity to light
Your vision is decreased
You have red or painful eyes
You have flaking, discharge, or a sore on your eye or eyelid
You have had trauma to your eye, or you have a bulging eye or a drooping eyelid
Your dry eyes do not get better with self-care measures within a few days
Knoop KJ, Dennis WR, Hedges JR. Ophthalmologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2013:chap 62.
Butler FK. The eye in the wilderness. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.
Crouch ER, Crouch ER, Grant TR. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 41.
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.