How to safely remove a foreign body from the eye

Eyelashes, grains of sand and small insects can easily get into your eye. Usually these foreign bodies are flushed out by tears. Here we explain what to do when your eye can’t get rid of them naturally.
When you’re out for a walk or a bike ride, or doing your favourite sport, you can easily get something in your eye. Usually you’re protected from foreign bodies by your eyebrows and eyelashes and your natural reflex to close your eyes.

What to do about foreign bodies in your eye

If, despite this, an intruder finds its way to the surface of your eye, the cornea or conjunctiva, the eye will try to get rid of the foreign body by producing more tears and blinking more vigorously. You should only try and remove it yourself if your eye doesn’t manage to do so.

Points to remember

If the eye can’t get rid of the foreign body itself, the medical professionals at santé24 recommend the following:

  • Under no circumstances rub your eye. Rubbing can result in small scratches on the cornea or conjunctiva which are very painful and may lead to more serious damage.
  • Don’t try and remove the foreign body with your fingers or an object. This can lead to infection or injury.
  • The best thing is to rinse out your eye with saline solution (which you’ll find, for example, in single doses at the chemist’s). Always proceed from the outside in, in other words towards the nose.
  • If you can see the foreign body, carefully try to remove it with a paper tissue.

If it gets stuck, or if you have a splinter in your eye, you should immediately consult a medical specialist. The same applies if the condition or pain recurs or if your sight or field of vision deteriorates.

santé24 – your Swiss telemedicine service

Health advice around the clock: The doctors and medical specialists at sante24 are there to offer you expert advice on all questions relating to prevention, illness, accident and maternity – in four languages, around the clock, 365 days a year. Advice is free of charge to SWICA customers.


30.10.2019
In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.