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Why do you feel a foreign body sensation in your eye? – Part 1

Patients often complain to me that they feel there is something in their eye. They may have a recollection of something having blown in the eye while walking down the street, while gardening, playing sports, going for a walk at the countryside or the park or walking by a building site. Several different things often cause a foreign body sensation in the eye.
A corneal abrasion with no foreign body is a possible differential diagnosis. Although, a UK study of over 1,000 patients showed that where there was ocular foreign body sensation less than 15% had a corneal abrasion. The reason for this is that the cornea is immensely sensitive and any disruption on its surface can cause pain and corneal foreign body sensation.
The cornea is sensitive to dryness, infection, chemical injury, overexposure to light, recurrent erosion syndrome and foreign body. All of these can give symptoms of a foreign body sensation.
It’s often difficult for the individual to distinguish between an abrasion and an actual foreign body or keratitis from their symptoms alone. They may require an ophthalmologist to take the history from a clinical aspect and then examine on the slit-lamp to distinguish between the various causes of a foreign body sensation.

The eight main causes to foreign body sensation

I am going to tell you about the eight main causes that can cause a foreign body sensation in your eye.
1. Corneal foreign body
2. Conjunctival foreign body
3. Corneal abrasion
4. Herpes simplex keratitis
5. Corneal exposure from incomplete closing of the eyelids
6. Chemical exposure
7. Excessive ultraviolet light exposure
8. Recurrent erosion syndrome


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