Many people show up at the ophthalmologist's office complaining that something is in their eyes. Eye doctors refer to this as a "foreign body sensation." We see through the cornea, or the part of our eye that is clear. This area has many nerve fibers that are usually sheltered by a lining. If something happens to this lining, it can make you feel like there is something in your eye even if there isn't.
Why Does It Feel Like Something Is in My Eye?
Most inflammation that occurs in the eye stems from the cornea, but there are other causes of pain that may be coming from inside the eye or from the surface in front of the eye. Some of these conditions may be caused by:
1. Foreign Body
Sometimes if you feel like something is in your eye, you're right – there is. You could find sawdust, metal shavings, tiny stone pieces, or sand. This condition can go from mild to severe discomfort; every time you blink, you irritate the eyelid as it rubs against the foreign body. You may also experience sensitivity to light or blurred vision.
Treatments: Save yourself time and head right to the doctor's office, he has the right tools to remove the embedded object before it becomes infected. You may have to take antibacterial eye drops as it heals.
2. Inturned Eyelash
"It feels like something is in my eye, what is it?" Well, it could be an in-turned eyelash. An in-turned eyelash, also referred to as trichiasis, can easily irritate the eye's surface. Symptoms may be similar to those experienced with a foreign body sensation but can also include tearing, pain, and redness.
Treatment: The way to remedy this condition is to remove the eyelash.
3. Corneal Abrasion
If you end up with a corneal abrasion, or a scratched eye, it could be the result of trauma, an infection in your eyelid, or an eyelash that has become inturned. Some of the symptoms you may experience include redness, blurred vision, pain, sensitivity to light, and tearing. You should have your eye looked at right away by an ophthalmologist so that it can be properly diagnosed.
Treatments: If you are suffering from a corneal abrasion, you may have to wear a patch that has an antibiotic ointment on it over the affected eye. Additional treatment would include medications to keep the eye lubricated and continued antibiotic ointment. With the proper treatment, the cornea can usually heal fairly quickly.
4. Dry Eyes
With the broad range of artificial tear products available on the market, it is no surprise that dry eye is a common problem. The symptoms include a gritty and dry feeling as well as feeling as if a foreign body is in the eye as well. You may experience blurred vision and your eyes may become sensitive to wind and a change in the temperature.
Treatments: You should receive immediate relief from artificial tear products which will lubricate the eye and help to resolve the problem. One product you may want to try is Refresh P.M. You may have to combine treatment options such as eye drops to keep the eye from becoming dry. Stay away from situations that aggravate the condition as well, such as fans and moving air. A humidifier may help keep the eye from drying out as well.
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is when the eye becomes inflamed and the membrane that is transparent and covers the whites of your eyes appears to be pink or reddish. It is caused by an allergic reaction or a viral or bacterial infection. It is highly contagious and you may end up with it in both eyes.
Symptoms of this condition included itchiness, a gritty feeling in your eyes, redness, tearing or a discharge that you may get that creates a crust in your eyes overnight.
Treatments: Your eyes should begin to heal within a week or two just on their own. An antibiotic should help your eyes heal even quicker.
Blepharitis is a condition that results in an inflammation of both eyelids. It affects the eyelashes where they grow and it happens when the oil glands near the base of the eyelashes gets clogged. Red eyes and irritated eyes are just two of the symptoms. Other signs are red and itchy eyes, watery eyes, a burning, stinging, and gritty eyes, swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, loss of eyelashes, crusted eyelashes when you wake up, and more frequent blinking.
Treatment: There are things you can do at home to treat blepharitis. You can wash your eyes and follow up with a warm compress. If this doesn't relieve your symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe something.
8. Additional Possible Conditions
"Feels like something is in my eye, could it be something else?" Yes, there are other conditions that could make you have the same feeling, which include:
- Problems with your contact lenses
- Turning out of your eyelid, called ectropion, results in pain and a scratchy sensation
- Turning in of your eyelid, called entropion, results in discharge and pain
- Your eyes may react to eye drops and end up feeling scratchy
- If you feel like your eye is itchy and burning, it could be phlyctenulosis
- A growth on the surface of the eye is called pterygium
- An autoimmune condition that could result in scarring and dry eye is called ocular cicatrical pemphigoid
If your eye hurts you should take it seriously and get to your doctor as quickly as you can. Anything to do with your eyes has the potential of leaving you with damaged eyes and loss of vision, temporarily or permanently. You should especially see your doctor if:
- You have had an injury to your eye.
- There is a discharge and redness to your eye.
- You are experiencing blurry vision and sensitivity to light.
- You have had cataract surgery or Lasik recently.
- You have been working with wood or metal and did not use protective eyewear.
- There is severe pain in your eyes and you have glaucoma. You could be experiencing angle-closure glaucoma which could result in a rapid loss of vision.
If you experience any kind of discomfort or pain in your eyes, don't hesitate in going to your doctor right away.