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Metal in the eye

It is summer and as it heats up we become more and more active outside and don’t always take the time to make safety a priority.  It becomes more common to start seeing patients with foreign bodies in their eyes, and get those callers that state, “I have metal in the eye, when can you get me in?’   It is not uncommon for a patient to simply shrug of this, “feeling something in my eye” irritation until they go to sleep and get woken up in a lot of pain when they slip into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

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A foreign body can be metal, wood, plastic, stone and even insect parts. I had a motorcycle rider come in once with a grasshopper leg in his conjunctiva.

These foreign objects are placed into two categories low impact and high impact. Thankfully the most common are the low impact they cause redness, irritation, light sensitivity, and are easily removed in the office and treated.  The high impact is potentially more dangerous as these hit the eye with are high rate of speed and may penetrate the eye which could mean surgery and hospitalization.

The examination is focused. We have to try and determine what you can see out of the eye first. Then we generally look externally then behind a microscope called a slitlamp. You can expect us to add drops typically a numbing agent and a dye.  In the case of certain metals they can rust quickly.

Regardless of the category if you have an ocular foreign body you should seek care from an optometrist.  We at BA Eye Site, are ready and able to help should you need us.  We have emergency care after hours for ocular emergencies such as these.


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BA Eye Site
2500 W New Orleans St
Broken Arrow, OK 74011