A. What Happens When Eyelashes Get Into Your Eye?
You’ve probably caught an eyelash at some point in your life – you might even have one now! Although irritating, almost all lashes fall out of the eye once they enter. But what happens to an eyelash that stays in the eye for what feels like an eternity? Where is it? how do you get out Here’s a quick look at the journey of an eyelash when it falls into your eye.
1. How objects get into the eye
Our bodies use built-in biological mechanisms to keep objects and debris out of our eyes and remove them as they enter. The eyebrows direct the particulate sweat from the forehead to the sides of the face. Blinking again moistens the eyeball, while tears push objects to the surface. The eyelashes themselves help sweep objects. But sometimes a speck of dust or small debris — like an eyelash — can overcome your defenses and get into your eye. This can happen through a lack of eye protection, the use of contaminated eye drops or makeup, or sheer luck (or bad luck).
2. Where do eyelashes go
Contrary to myth, eyelashes are rarely behind the eyeball. A layer of muscle and tissue blocks the front half of the eye from behind, and it is only when this lining is ruptured by severe trauma that this layer can rupture. Most of the time, when you feel an eyelash in your eye, it moves across the surface of your eyeball like an ice cube on a tiled floor. It can also move under the upper or lower eyelids.
3. How to remove something from your eye
If the natural processes of tear or sleep production aren’t removing debris from the eye, try these tactics:
- Rinse carefully with clear water
- Use eye drops (observe the expiration date!)
- Blink quickly, but not too much, as the object may scratch your eyeball
- Wipe gently with a clean cloth or cotton swab
- Note: Avoid using your finger to minimize contamination
- If nothing else helps, see an ophthalmologist
B. How To Prevent And Handle Misdirected And Ingrown Eyelashes
Trichiasis is a common eyelash problem that causes eyelashes to grow abnormally. Instead of growing outward, some lashes may grow inward toward the eye. Because the eyelashes are often very thick, trichiasis can feel like a needle sticking in the eye and often causes pain and irritation, but it can also damage the eye if left untreated.
1. Symptoms of trichiasis
Trichiasis can cause your eyelashes to rub against the conjunctiva and calluses, causing pain and irritation. Constant corneal irritation can sometimes lead to corneal abrasions. Inflammation and vision loss can also occur when the condition becomes chronic or ongoing.
People with trichiasis often complain of the following symptoms:
- Foreign body sensation
- Redness of the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Teary eyes
- Eye pain
Many say they feel like something is scratching their eye or that they think there is a piece of sand in their eye.
Sometimes healthcare professionals can’t find a reason why eyelashes are growing improperly. This is called an idiopathic cause. The eye looks healthy but the lashes tend to grow inward. However, a very common cause of trichiasis is blepharitis. Blepharitis causes infection and inflammation of the eyelids and the eyelid rim. When this occurs, the hair follicles can become misdirected and cause trichiasis.
There are some other eye conditions that can cause the eyelashes to misdirect or grow abnormally:
- Entropion: The eyelid loses its normal elasticity and twists or bends inward. This is sometimes due to age or being overweight. It is most commonly seen in adults.
- Injury: When the eyelid is cracked or injured, the eyelashes can change position and grow inward. This can happen as a result of surgical repair of an injured eyelid.
- Distichiasis: An extra row of lashes develops and grows inward, rubbing against the eye.
The irritation caused by trichiasis is usually enough to prompt a person to make an appointment with an eye doctor. By examining your eye with a slit lamp, your eye doctor can determine if you actually have trichiasis. Your doctor will also instill a staining solution to indicate any damage that may have occurred to your cornea from repeated irritation. This test can show the severity of your condition.
3. Treatment options
The following options can be used to treat trichiasis. Your doctor will decide which treatment option is best for you. If the initial treatment chosen by your doctor is not sufficient, he or she may decide to explore other treatment options on this list.
- Hair Removal: The first line of treatment is to shave or pull out misaligned or misdirected eyelashes with special tweezers. Eyelashes usually grow back in two or three months.
- Electrolysis: Electrolysis uses electrical current to damage the hair follicle and prevent it from growing back. Recurrences occur in 40 to 50% of patients.
- Surgery: In severe cases, eyelid surgery can be done to get rid of trichiasis.
- Dressing up contact lenses: A contact lens with a soft bandage is applied to the cornea to help healing and protect it from unshaved eyelashes.
Frequent visits to your eye doctor are recommended if you suffer from trichiasis. The life cycle of an eyelash is about three months. If you have recurring trichiasis, schedule a doctor visit every two and a half months so the doctor can check to see if new eyelashes are growing in the wrong direction.
4. Trichiasis complications
If left untreated, trichiasis can become a serious eye problem. A corneal abrasion that can result from a thick eyelash can cause significant damage to your eye. If infection occurs, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops and anti-inflammatory medication.
C. How To Safely Remove An Eyelash From Your Eye
Eyelashes, the short hairs that grow at the end of the eyelid, serve to protect the eyes from dust and dirt. The glands at the base of your eyelashes also help lubricate your eyes when you blink. Occasionally, an eyelash may fall into your eye and get stuck for a minute or two. When this happens, you may experience irritation or itching under your eyelid. You might feel like rubbing your eye and your eye is likely to start watering. If you catch an eyelash, try to stay calm and follow the instructions in this article. In most cases, an eyelash can be removed easily and without any further complications.
1. How to identify
The lashes in your eyes can look fluttering, rough, or sharp and piercing. You may or may not feel your eyelashes falling out and this may or may not be a result of rubbing your eyes. You can tell your eye is an eyelash by standing in front of a mirror, keeping your eye open and moving it from side to side. The eyelash may or may not be visible. Follow the steps below if you see or suspect an eyelash in your eye.
2. How to remove an eyelash
To safely remove an eyelash, follow these steps:
- Before doing anything, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them with a towel. Remove all contact lenses if you have any. You don’t want to introduce bacteria into your eye, especially when it’s already irritated.
- In front of a mirror, gently pull the skin over the brow bone and the skin under the eye. Look closely for a moment and see if you can see the lash floating in your eye.
- Without rubbing your eye, take a deep breath and blink several times to see if your natural tears wash your lashes away on their own.
- If the lash seems to be behind the upper eyelid, gently pull the upper eyelid forward and toward the lower eyelid. Look up, then left, then right, then down. Repeat this process to try to move the lash towards the center of the eye.
- Use a damp cotton swab to gently catch the lash if you see it running towards or under your lower eyelid. Only do this if the lash is on the white part of the eye or on the eyelid.
- Try artificial tears or saline to wash your lashes.
- If none of the above steps worked, take a small glass of juice and fill it up with warm, filtered water. Lower your eye to the glass and try to flush your lashes.
- As a last resort, you can try taking a shower with a gentle stream of water on your eyes.
3. For children
If your child has an eyelash in their eye, don’t use your fingernails or other sharp objects to try to catch it. If the above steps don’t work, keep your child’s eye open and instruct them to look side to side and up and down while you flush them with saline or artificial teardrops. If these are not available, use a gentle stream of clean, lukewarm, or cold water. You can also try removing it with a damp cotton swab in the corner of your eye. If an eyelash is stuck in your eye or a child’s eye for more than an hour, you may need to see a doctor for help. Repeated attempts to remove an eyelash from an eye can scratch and irritate the cornea, increasing the risk of eye infections.
4. What not to do
If an eyelash hovers in your eye for a minute or so, it can drive you a little crazy. Keeping calm is the best strategy for removing a foreign object from your eye.
Here’s a short list of things to avoid while your lash is in your eye:
- Don’t try to remove an eyelash if you have contact lenses in your eye.
- Never touch your eyes without washing your hands first.
- Do not use tweezers or other sharp objects.
- Do not attempt to drive or operate sensitive equipment.
- Don’t ignore the eyelash and wait for it to go away.
- No panic.
5. Long term side effects
Typically, an eyelash is a temporary inconvenience that you can quickly fix. If you cannot remove the eyelash, it could scratch your eyelid or eye. Bacteria from your hands can be introduced into your eye while it’s irritated. You can also injure your eyelid or cornea by trying to remove the eyelash with your fingernails or a sharp object. All of these factors increase the risk of conjunctivitis (red eyes), keratitis or cellulitis of the eyelids.
6. Other possible causes
If you feel like you’ve got your eye on an eyelash but can’t find it, there might be something else at play. Ingrown eyelashes are a common condition where an eyelash grows under the eyelid instead of out. Certain eye conditions, such as blepharitis, can increase the likelihood of an ingrown eyelash. If your eyelashes fall out frequently, you may have hair loss or an eyelid infection. Losing eyelashes can also be a sign that you are allergic to a cosmetic product. If you frequently experience the sensation of an eyelash or other object under your eyelid, you may have dry eye or eyelid inflammation. If these symptoms do not go away, you should consult your ophthalmologist.
7. When to the doctor
In some cases, an eyelash in the eye can prompt a visit to the ophthalmologist. You should seek professional help if you have any of the following problems:
- An eyelash that is in your eye for more than several hours
- Redness and tears that do not stop after eyelash removal
- Green or yellow pus or mucus from your eye
- Bleeding from your eye
8. The bottom line
Eyelashes are a fairly common condition and can usually be treated at home. Avoid rubbing your eyes and always wash your hands before touching the eye area. Above all, never attempt to remove an eyelash with a sharp object such as tweezers. In some situations, you may need the help of an optometrist or optometrist to safely remove your eyelashes. Talk to your eye doctor if you find your eyelashes fall out frequently.