Self-Treatment for Minor Eye Conditions


US Pharmacist. 2001;26(12) 

Loose Foreign Material in the Eye

The patient may suspect that loose foreign material has entered the eye. Patients may experience a foreign body sensation, blinking, tearing, irritation, discomfort, burning, stinging, or itching. The pharmacist must question the patient closely to ascertain whether any dangerous activity caused the incident (e.g., sports or recreational activities involving projectiles, using power tools without safety goggles). If so, an immediate referral is mandatory, since the eyeball may have been partially penetrated. The products available for this condition are only for incidents such as an eyelash or windblown sand or dirt that remains in the eye. The foreign material may also be pollen or airborne pollutants.

If the pharmacist is convinced that the object in the eye is loose, an eye wash may be recommended. These products (e.g., Collyrium, Bausch & Lomb Eye Wash) are sterile aqueous solutions that can be used to irrigate the eyes. Rather than using the eye cup that is often packaged with these products, however, patients should be instructed to hold their head over the sink, and to gently "stream" the product across the open eye. These products are also useful as first aid for acid or alkali burns of the eye, although the potentially devastating sequelae of exposure to these chemicals mandate immediate transport to the emergency room during the irrigation.[5]