How to Treat Foreign Bodies In A Child’s Eye

Eye injuries among children are common, and the causes are wide ranging as they seem to find ever-more-creative ways to hurt themselves.  It is often difficult to know exactly when to seek medical help but in cases where there is a relatively harmless foreign body present in the eye (like dust, hair, grit, etc.), you can administer help yourself. First, having something lodged in the eye is an unsettling feeling, so calming your child may be the first thing to do. Securing their head and looking closely at the problem will make them feel more comfortable. It will also prevent them from rubbing their eye or trying to remove the object themselves, which could make the problem worse. Suggest that they focus on something in the distance and stay still. If it is something small that is causing your child discomfort, such as dust or hair, you can try flushing the eye yourself: Hold your child’s eye under gently running water for several minutes and then check. The foreign object should have gone.

Having difficulty? Get help

If the eye has been cut or penetrated, or if you are having difficulty flushing it out, you should take your child to the GP or nearest Emergency Department. Foreign objects can cause infection, scarring, or–worst case–long-term vision impairments. This includes burn injuries from a chemical, household cleaner, or perfume (classic signs are redness, pain, swelling, and stinging). Make sure your child doesn’t rub their eye in the meantime. Ideally, place a paper cup or similarly loose, protective cover over the affected eye until it can be treated. Note: In instances such as these it helps to be prepared with a first aid kit, stored in a cool, dry place and out of the reach of children.

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