All eye problems are serious because loss of sight or infection may occur, so any occurrence of a foreign object in the eye requires medical attention. Splinters (slivers) in the skin can often be safely removed without requiring medical assistance, and this information can be found in the Splinters text. Anything larger than a splinter embedded in the skin should be removed only by a medical professional. First aid measures listed below focus on protecting the skin or eye from further damage and should be conducted while awaiting medical assistance.
First Aid Guide
In the case of a foreign object in the eye, the following first aid measures should be taken while awaiting medical care:
- Take special care to leave the object in its place. Do not put any pressure on the affected area.
- Thoroughly wash your hands.
- The size of the foreign object determines how the eye should be bandaged:
- If the object is small, cover both eyes with sterile dressings.
- If the object is large, tape a paper cup over the injured eye, and then cover the uninjured eye with a sterile dressing.
- Leave the object in place. Removing the object could cause severe bleeding.
- If necessary, carefully cut away any clothes from the affected area.
- Thoroughly wash your hands, and put on sterile gloves if available.
- Immobilize the foreign object with a paper cup, rolled bandages, etc.
- Do not remove the object (unless it is a splinter in the skin only).
- Do not attempt to clean the area.
- Do not breathe on the area.
In the case of all foreign objects in the skin, with some exceptions, such as splinters, give first aid and then seek medical attention. Any object that passes through clothing requires medical care.
Any penetrating injury to the eye requires medical attention, even if the object in the eye is small. If there is merely suspicion of a foreign body in the eye, even if an object cannot be seen, seek medical attention for complete evaluation of the eye.
If suspected infection develops days later (ie, the affected area is very red or warm to the touch, painful, oozing pus, or blood-filled), seek medical attention.
In the case of a foreign object in the eye, special instruments are required to examine the eye completely.
In the case of a foreign object in the skin, the doctor may give a tetanus shot if the wound is dirty, deep, or if the previous shot was more than 5 years ago. If infection occurs at the wound site, antibiotics may be given.