Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies

 

Any material such as dust, sand or paint that gets into the eye is called a foreign body. Foreign bodies fall into two categories.

 

  • Superficial foreign bodies: these stick to the front of the eye or get trapped under one of the eyelids, but do not enter the eye.
  • Penetrating foreign bodies: these penetrate the outer layer of the eye (cornea or sclera) and enter the eye. These objects are usually travelling at high speed and are commonly made of metal.

 

Superficial foreign bodies are not usually serious.

A penetrating eye injury can be extremely serious – it may lead to blindness if not detected and treated promptly. Even if treated appropriately, it may cause loss of vision.


Superficial foreign bodies tend to be very uncomfortable. The foreign body may be stuck on to the cornea or the conjunctiva, causing a red, watery and gritty eye.

The foreign material may have become stuck under the upper lid, such that every time the eye blinks the pain increases.

 

Penetrating eye injuries, although they are much more serious injuries, paradoxically are often much less painful. The vision may be reduced, but this is not always the case.