Foreign Body Sensation (It’s Not Just Sand In Your Eye)

Do you feel as if there is a grain of sand in one or both of your eyes? That no matter how much you try to rub the feeling away, the sensation escalates to a burning itch — resulting in red, watery, and swollen eyes? If yes, you are experiencing a foreign body, which is something that enters the eye from outside the body.

What is a foreign body sensation?

The feeling of having something in your eye can be incredibly bothersome. In such a case, the first line of action is to determine what is causing the irritating sensation. The foreign body can be anything that does not naturally belong there, from an eyelash, a particle of dust, or even minute insects stuck to the tear film. These require careful removal from with a damp cloth or a clean finger. To do so, gently raise the lower or upper eyelid where the object is and wipe it from the surface of the eye towards the nose.

What if there is no foreign body in the eye?

If there is no trace of a foreign object in the eye, you can still experience an irritating sensation due to the following factors:

1. Dry Eyes

If you frequently suffer from dry or irritated eyes, you are prone to experiencing an itchy foreign body sensation. The tear film is responsible for reducing the evaporation of our natural tears. When your eyes are suffering from a lack of lubrication, the tear film will be unable to cover the surface of the eye. This results in a feeling of having a grain of sand in the eye. Pain, scratching, and itching are the accompanying symptoms.

2. Incrustations

When you have dry eyes, the lack of lacrimal fluid leads to a foreign body sensation through the formation of incrustations during sleep, which can lead to a scratchy or sticky feeling.

Overnight, these depositions stick the eyelids together and enter the tear film. Once the eyes are opened, every blink will scratch over the sensitive surface of the eye. This continuous and rapid rubbing of the eye against the sharp-edged foreign bodies can lead to irritation.

3. Nerve Damage

If, however, no foreign body or incrustation is present in the eye, other factors could be causing the sensation, such as the nerves being overly stimulated.

The damaging of nerves on the surface of the eye can lead to constant signaling even though there is no external irritant impinging on the nerve. External influences such as heat can produce the unpleasant feeling of having an eyelash or grain of sand in the eye. Quite often, it is also the dysfunction in lubrication that triggers a foreign body sensation — meaning your eyes may simply be too dry.

Treat Dry Eyes to Prevent Foreign Body Sensations

To remedy the occurrence of dry eyes and its association with foreign body sensations, you must restore the volume of the tear film with prescription eye drops and ointments. The aid of lubricating eye treatments sustainably stabilizes the sensation by replenishing the natural fluid of the eye and tear film. Irritation should also start to diminish, as should the feeling of having a foreign particle in the eye.

If prescription drops and ointments fail to relieve your symptoms, do not hesitate to visit Arizona Retinal Specialists. Contact us today at 623-474-3937.

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