Eye injury – something in your eye

eye injury

Eye injuries can occur when flying particles lodge in your eye or chemical splash. Some common examples include wood chips, metal filings, dust, insects, chemicals, sand and grain. This can occur while working in the workshop, (angle grinding, welding) and during field activities such as fencing, stock mustering or even playing sport! Even swooping magpies are known to have caused numerous eye injuries.

DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE if you get something in it! It is important to seek assistance as permanent damage can occur.

This may scratch your eye or embed the object. Flush the eye with clean water under a tap or with a bottle. If the particle does not rinse free after a few minutes, place a pad loosely over the eye and seek medical treatment.  DO NOT attempt to remove an embedded foreign body from your eye; you may cause damage to your eye.

Complications with eye injuries:

  • Infection and scarring – if the foreign body is not removed from your eye, it may lead to infection and scarring.
  • Corneal scratches or abrasions – a foreign body may scratch the cornea, which is the clear membrane on the front of the eye.
  • Eye Ulcer – sometimes a scratch on the cornea doesn’t heal and an eye (ulcer) may form in its place. This could affect your vision or lead to an abscess
  • Penetrating eye injury – sometimes a projectile object i.e. piece of metal from angle grinding can pierce the eye and enter the eyeball, causing serious injury and even blindness

Fast facts:

Eye injury – something in your eye

  • If you get a something in your eye, don’t rub it as it may cause more damage.
  • Flush your eye out with clean water or eyewash.
  • If it doesn’t come out, cover the eye with a loose pad and get medical help
  • Do NOT try to remove it yourself.
  • Use correct and well maintained eye safety equipment like clean, clear safety glasses and welding goggles or full mask.

Eye injuries – foreign body in the eye

A foreign body is an object in your eye that shouldn’t be there, such as a wood chip, metal shaving, insect or piece of glass. Don’t try to remove it yourself. Seek urgent medical attention. Symptoms include pain, burning, irritation, a scratchy feeling, blurred vision, loss of vision, sensitivity to bright lights and bleeding into the white of the eye.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:
Better Health Channel
National Ag Safety Database (US)
NHS Choices (UK)
North East Valley Division of General Practice

Eye injuries and farming

The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital
Swooping birds and eye injuries

Clinical care:
Ambulance Service NSW

Eye injuries [PDF 126kb]

Research & reviews:
Bentham Open Access
Safe Work Australia

Work related eye injuries in Australia [PDF]


Last updated: 5th February, 2019