Eye Irritants and What To Do About It

by Mar 27, 2023

Dust, dirt, and other eye irritants can easily get into the eyes if it becomes airborne. When these things get in the eyes it is common for the eyes to be irritated, red, and painful. Any type of foreign substance in the eye can cause dryness, scratch the eye, or get stuck underneath the eyelid. If dust gets into the eyes, it is important to rinse the eyes using an eyewash, then over the counter eye drops can be used to manage the other symptoms. However, if there is a large piece lodged in the eyelid or if there is a scratch on the cornea, it should be treated by an eye doctor with prescription eye drops.


The Eye’s Natural Defenses

The eyes are built to have natural defense mechanisms to limit the amount of debris that can get into the eyes.

The eyelashes, the eyelids, and the eyebrows along with the tears are designed to restrict any foreign substance from entering the eyes.

It is reflexive to blink when there is an irritant in the air so that the eyelids protect the front of the eyes from harm.

The eyebrows and eyelashes are able to collect small debris and prevent it from ever making it into the eye.

If a small amount of debris does make it past the eyelids, eyebrows and eyelashes, the tear film is there to catch the debris and move it away from the cornea.

Despite the many natural protective mechanisms, there are still many cases where dust or dirt can enter the eyes.


Symptoms of Debris in the Eye

If a foreign substance like dust or dirt gets into the eyes, it will often cause immediate irritation, redness of the white of the eye, and lots of tearing.

These are responsive symptoms that allow the body to try to rid the eye of the dust.

However, at the point that there are significant symptoms, the eye is usually unable to get the dust out entirely on its own.

These symptoms will usually persist until additional treatment is used to help clean the eye.


Treating Eye Irritants

If there is outside debris in the eye, then the first line of treatment is to perform an eye wash using sterile saline or other preservative-free options to flush the loose debris from the eyes.

Washing the eyes out for up to five or ten minutes may provide relief from the sensation of something being inside the eye.

After an eye wash, preservative-free artificial tears should be used to keep the eye’s surface lubricated and moist.

These eye drops are available over the counter and can be used up to five times a day if needed until the symptoms begin to fade.


When to See a Doctor

If there is significant pain, any discharge, or if the vision becomes blurry at any point, these are symptoms of a more severe eye condition that will require a visit to the eye doctor.

An eye doctor can prescribe any necessary eye drops or medications and ensure that there is no wound or infection on the eye.


Our eye doctors at Perception Eyecare + Eyewear in Richardson, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at 972-250-0700 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about eye irritants.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Richardson, TX and the surrounding vicinities of Garland, University Park, Sachse, and Highland Park.

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