ZocdocAnswersHow can I get dirt out of my eye?

Question

How can I get dirt out of my eye?

When I was outside this morning, a big gust of wind blew some dirt into my eye. I've had dust or dirt in my eye many times before, and I have always been able to get it out by blinking or making my eye tear up. Today, however, I cannot seem to get the dirt out of my eye, and it continues to feel like something is stuck in my eye. Now, my eye is getting red, and it feels irritated. I feel like this dirt may be stuck in my eye, and I'm getting concerned. Is there something else that I can do to try to get this dirt out of my eye?

Answer

Believe it or not this is actually a very common problem. The reason that you are having trouble getting the dirt out of your eye is that there is probably not any dirt left in you eye at all, it just feels that way. In any case, it is important to schedule an appointment with an eye specialist who can evaluate your eye. Our eyes encounter dirt, debris, and sometimes even more serious insults on a regular basis. We have eyebrows, eyelashes, and eyelids to attempt to prevent this debris from getting into the eye. We have tears to wash debris out if it gets in. When dirt gets into your eye, it comes into contact with your cornea, the outermost layer of your eye. Your cornea has a rich supply of pain nerves designed to tell your brain that there is something in your eye. Your brain tells your eye to blink, make tears, etc. to try to get the dirt out. Almost always, this works and the dirt is washed out of your eye. If this is all that happens, you feel better and move on with your day. But if the dirt leaves even a tiny scratch on your cornea, those pain nerves keep firing and telling your brain the only thing they know how to say, "something is in my eye". Sounds weird, but its true. If you have the feeling that there is dirt in your eye that won't wash out, the most likely answer is that there is a small scratch on your cornea called a corneal abrasion. Corneal abrasions range widely in their severity and only infrequently require specific treatment in order to heal. The only person that can determine for sure whether you have a corneal abrasion is a doctor with special tools to look at the surface of the eye, usually an ophthalmologist. Most corneal abrasions require no specific treatment and heal readily on their own, but it is a good idea to pay a visit to an eye specialist who can evaluate your eye, determine if any treatment is needed, and provide you with drops or eye care instructions to help you feel more comfortable until your eye heals.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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