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What happens when sand gets in your eyes?
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 08 March 2021
Most of us love the beach, but there's nothing worse than enjoying a leisurely day before a gust of wind blows sand in your eyes. Not only is sand in your eyes incredibly painful, but it can also harm the tissues in your eyes. This article will talk you through the dangers of getting sand in your eyes and what to do if it happens to you.
What should you do if you get sand in your eye?
The best thing to do if you get sand in your eyes is to remain calm. Don't attempt to rub your eyes or get the sand out with your fingers or a cotton swab as this can cause abrasion and eye injuries. Rubbing your eyes can cause irritation, redness and swelling. Rubbing could also lodge the sand further in your eyes.
If you're wearing contact lenses, make sure you remove them right away. It's best to wear sunglasses while at the beach as this can prevent sand from getting in your eyes in the first place.
How do you get rid of sand in your eye?
Before you attempt to get sand out your eye, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.
- Blink lots to allow the tears to flush out the sand
- Rinse your eyes out with a saline solution or clean water
- Lift your upper eyelid over your lower lid to allow the lashes to brush the foreign object out of your eye
What if you can't get the sand out of your eye?
You should seek medical advice if you're struggling to remove the particles from your eyes or if you feel that there is still something on the surface of the eye.
Can sand in the eye cause infection?
Sand in the eye can cause corneal abrasions which can lead to infection and a corneal ulcer. The following symptoms could be a sign of corneal abrasion:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- A sensation of a foreign object in your eye
- Red eyes
- Excessive tearing
How to treat a corneal abrasion?
Your doctor will recommend that you put antibiotic drops in your eyes or/and take medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
If you suspect a corneal abrasion, you should see your doctor right away. The doctor will have you keep your eye open while they examine your cornea and eyelid under bright light. They may put a dye in your eye to identify any scratches.
If you have a scratch on your eye, your doctor is likely to treat it with topical antibiotic drops or/and take medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
While it's no fun getting sand in your eye, it's rare for it to cause permanent damage and most minor scratches on the cornea will heal within a few days. Nevertheless, it's still best to be cautious as you don't want to end up with deep scratches by rubbing your eyes.
Quick links:How to get a broken lens out of the eye
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