Eyes are sensitive organs that are easily irritated. Any small particle in your eye can cause extreme distress. Natural tearing may flush a small bit out of your eye, but you may have to intercede in other cases. The offending matter can often be removed at home. Prepare a simple eye wash station in your home so you will have it when you need it. Be aware that in some cases, the cornea, the transparent covering over the iris and pupil, can be scratched. Seek medical attention if pain continues following removal of the object.
Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soap prior to touching your eye.
Find a well-lit place with a mirror, such as the bathroom, where you can safely remove the particle.
Inspect your eye visually to determine the nature and position of the eye irritant. Common particles that get in the eye include sand, eyelashes, and salt and pepper flakes.
Fill an eyedropper or medicine cup with cool clean water.
Hold your upper lid up and away from your eye with your left hand.
Hold the dropper or cup in your right hand, and flush your affected eye.
Repeat flushing until you have removed the particle or have determined that this method alone will not work.
Pull your upper lid up and over your lower lid and roll your eyes to help remove the particle if flushing fails, recommends the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.
Get someone to drive you to an emergency room if you cannot dislodge a particle or if your eye still hurts after removal. You may have scratched the cornea, the transparent covering of the pupil and iris.
Always wear safety glasses when working in a laboratory, doing yard work, drilling or performing any activity in which small particles may fly.
Remove floating particles by dabbing the eye with a wet piece of cotton or clean white cloth while holding your lids open.
Blink several times to get the tears flowing. Sometimes you can easily flush the irritant out simply by crying.
Never try to remove an irritant that is embedded in the eye.
Never put anything, aside from water, into your eye.
Do not remove your contact lenses if the irritant is chemical in nature, warns Medline Plus. Instead, rinse your eyes with the lenses in place, and then seek medical attention.