Why do you feel a foreign body sensation in your eye? – Part 3
Corneal exposure happens when the eyelids don’t entirely close. For instance, during sleep, many patients don’t close their eyes, and if they get a little bit of fluff in the eye during the night, they may well have either a few small scratches on the cornea or dry spots from the exposure. The lubricant is the mainstay of treatment.
Chemical exposure can occur because of chemicals in the atmosphere or from creams and lotions and makeup used around the eyes (periorbital area). Once you establish what the chemical is and the extent of the injury, clean the eye and periorbital area and put in soothing drops.
Chemical injuries, unfortunately, can be quite severe and require immediate treatment with washing the eye out. Prompt treatment is especially needed if the chemical is a concentrated acid or alkali. It may cause severe scarring if not managed early.
Here at Clinica London, we have an expert in chemical injuries to the eye, Mr Sajjad Ahmad. Mr Ahmad has extensive experience using stem cell treatment for scarring. He also lectures on the management of chemical injuries.
This is commonly known as welder’s flash, but it can also occur with skiing without goggles where there is corneal epithelial oedema causing an epitheliopathy seen as a punctate central stain on the cornea using Fluorescein and the blue light on the slit-lamp. This can be exquisitely sensitive due to the fine nerves in the cornea. It usually heals very quickly with a combination of padding, dilating the pupil to stop the ciliary spasm and antibiotics.
Recurrent erosion syndrome is an annoying syndrome where there is a history of a patient with an injury usually from a baby’s fingernail, paper cut, cardboard or plant. Then several weeks or months later, they start waking at night or in the morning with sensations and feelings of the original corneal abrasion back. This is called recurrent erosion syndrome. It is usually self-limiting, and your ophthalmologist should manage it, but sometimes it is so recurrent that it requires specialised laser treatment to the cornea to help bind the epithelial cells back down on to the Bowman’s layer. Mr Sajjad Ahmad, our ocular surface specialist, is the ophthalmic consultant who will manage recurrent erosion syndrome.
Lastly, I mentioned dry eyes. Dry eyes are often experienced as a foreign body and gritty sensation often with blurred vision. A change of habit with working and lubricant drops will significantly assist this common and usually benign cause of foreign body sensation in your eye.
Should you have a foreign body sensation in your eye do not hesitate to see your ophthalmologist as there are several causes that can give foreign body sensation. I have mentioned a few above which the ophthalmologist has to distinguish.
The history that you give the ophthalmologist will help him or her know what the problem is which is then confirmed by examination with a slit-lamp. A slit-lamp is a biomicroscope and with special dye drops which show up foreign body, scratches, dry spots etc.
If it is a severe problem, we recommend that you see the general ophthalmologists first at Clinica London who will then refer you directly on to the specialist ocular surface doctor, Mr Sajjad Ahmad, for further advice if your foreign body sensation is not responding to treatment.