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Eye Irrigation & Foreign Body Removal

Eye irrigation is one of the best ways to remove foreign bodies from the delicate surface of your eyes. Whether it’s a speck of dust, dirt, or even bark, from the smallest to largest foreign object, the pain you feel can be unbearable. Eye irrigation can rid your body of the foreign object and lead to healing. It’s important to remember that irrigation does not help with the embedded foreign object. This will require more invasive removal.

What is eye irrigation?

Eye irrigation is the process of using a sterile solution to flush the eyes of any foreign bodies. While it’s ok to use sterile, purified water, many physicians prefer a sterile saline solution thanks to its antibacterial properties.

Can I do it myself?

No. Irrigating your eye is a delicate process that requires both knowledge of the eyes, as well as sterile equipment. If you feel like you have a foreign body in your eye don’t rub it or try to remove it yourself. Head immediately to a medical office with experience in eye irrigation. The sooner you get the foreign body removed the sooner you can begin to heal. Prolonged exposure to foreign bodies can lead to blindness and vision loss. In extreme cases, you can even lose your eye.

How does eye irrigation work?

When you arrive at the doctor’s office to have your eye flushed, the first thing you’ll notice is a set of sterilized instruments set up. Most of the time none of these instruments will even touch the eye. Typically there’s the saline solution, tubing, an IV, and a syringe. The doctor will put a clean towel under your head to absorb any liquid that drips. He may also drape a towel over your chest.

There are two positions the doctor may ask you to take. The first requires you to lay flat. The second requires you to lean back slightly (the chair will be reclined) and tilt your head so that fluid can flow sideways. Both ways are effective. If one option doesn’t work, the doctor may have you try another position.

As the doctor flushes water over your eyes you’ll likely feel immediate relief. After completing the flush the doctor will dry around your eye, taking special care to not press down on the eye itself. He or she may provide you with an eye patch, along with ointment, and pain medication. What the doctor prescribes exactly will depend on how your eye feels after the irrigation, what the doctor sees in terms of any tears or scratches, and how you describe any pain.

Ultimately the best solution to healing after removal of a foreign body from the eye is rest and fluids. Keeping your eyes closed and sleeping in a dark room will boost the healing process and eliminate the risk of anything else going in your eyes. It’s also important to avoid wearing makeup while you’re healing.

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