When it feels like you have something in your eye….. go straight to your optometrist!
Every day we see a least one patient who complains of feeling like something is in their eye. Whether they have been referred from a walk-in or family medical practice, or directly called our office themselves, we routinely see patients on an emergency basis for “foreign body removal”. Foreign body removal is the term we use which refers to removal unwanted material from the eye. This unwanted material can be anything including eyelashes, dried mucus, dust, dirt, cosmetics, contact lenses, metal particles or glass shards.
It may seem obvious to most that if you get something in your eye, you should have your eye looked at by an optometrist to confirm the material was fully removed, no underlying infection exists and that the cornea is healthy and intact. That being said, unfortunately we do not always see these cases right away.
Did you know that most common material we see in the cornea is metal? Whether you are under your car, grinding or even hammering, metal can easily find its way to the cornea. There are two major concerns with metal in the cornea, the first being that metal can enter at high velocity and penetrate the eye. 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. Secondly, metal can quickly react with the eyes natural tears and create a ring of rust in the cornea. The longer the metal stays in the eye, the more rust forms. In these situations, both the metal and rust must be removed.
At iSight Optometry we keep times open in our daily schedule for patients requiring urgent care, allowing us to diagnose and treat eye health problems, or make immediate referrals when necessary. Our wait times are significantly less and we are equipped with the proper medical equipment and technology to thoroughly examine the external and internal structures of the eye. An orange corneal dye (fluorescein) and a blue light may be used with high magnification to detect small foreign bodies. We also have the capability of digitally imaging the corneal to properly document injuries to the front of the eye.
The most important take home message is: “When you feel like something is in your eye, go straight to your optometrist.” Optometrists have the proper equipment to inspect the cornea and eyelids. The longer the material stays in the eye, the higher the risk of secondary problems. If you have any questions or would like to see one of our doctors call 250-860-2020.