Foreign body in the eyes. Objects that can leave you blind.

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The eyes are organs that are exposed to the open air. The eyelids and eyelashes protect us from dirt that can potentially fall inside. When we’re outside and there’s a lot of wind with dust, we squint to prevent dirt from entering, but unfortunately, sometimes they fall into the eye and it can be affected.

People who work in the areas like maintenance, cleaning, construction and mechanics, are recommended to wear protective glasses to avoid trauma or eye perforations and other work accidents. Especially if you carry out the activities of welding, hammering, drilling, gardening, using cleaning chemicals or any activity that could put the health of your eyes at risk.

In Roatan it is very common to see patients with metal shavings in their eyes, and they usually wait a long time to come. On some occasions, they come with the eye already infected (eg corneal ulcer).

The only doctor who should remove dirt from the eyes is the specialist in ophthalmology or optometry. We have had cases where the patient goes to the general practitioner, they try to remove the dirt without having the proper equipment or extensive knowledge about how the eye really works, and ends up scratching and damaging the cornea. The best and ethical thing to do, is to refer the patient to the specialist.

There are people who have lost their eye due to foreign bodies or who end up with a cornea transplant.

When dirt falls into your eye, it will look irritated and you will have the feeling of having a dirty trapped. Sometimes the dirty ones get stuck on the inside of the eyelids, and when you blink you will feel that it is scratching your cornea. Other times, the dirt penetrates and pierces the cornea, exposing its layers, with the risk of developing an infection. In this case, the dirt is removed, the eye is patched with an antibiotic for a certain time, which will cause the cells of the cornea to regenerate and the eye out of danger.

A piece of metal in the eye can cause the following:

  • Intense pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Burning

What to do when dirt falls in the eye:

  • Wash your hands with soap and rinse your eyes with a gentle stream of clean water. Do not apply the water directly to the eye and without pressure.
  • Brighten the area and examine your eye to see if you can spot the dirt.
  • Don’t try to get the dirt out.
  • Don’t rub your eyes.
  • Close the affected eye and go to the specialist.

What not to do when dirt falls in the eye.

  • Don’t let anyone try to get it out of you.
  • Don’t self-medicate.
  • Avoid eye drops that contain dexamethasone.

Seek care with the specialist when:

  • You can’t get the object out.
  • See the dirt embedded in the eye.
  • There is blurred vision.
  • You have severe pain in your eye.
  • Fairly sensitive to light.

Contact lenses, despite being useful, are considered foreign bodies and their improper use puts the person’s vision and eye at risk.

Objects that we frequently remove from the eyes in Roatan:

  • Metal objects (shavings, wires, nails, hooks)
  • Dust, dirt or stones
  • Bits of wood
  • Insects
  • Chemicals

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