Foreign Body in the Eye: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 5/20/2016

A foreign body in the eye is anything that is lodged in any part of the eye. Usually foreign bodies are metal, glass, or organic material (such as insects). Depending upon the size and type of material that gets into the eye, it may be a minor irritation or can cause serious medical consequences. Foreign bodies may cause bleeding into the eye. Bleeding into the whites of the eye is due to blood collection in or under the conjunctiva, the lining membranes of the eye. Blood over the iris (colored part) of the eye is known as a hyphema. This is often a sign of a serious eye injury.

Causes of foreign body in the eye

Using protective eyewear can prevent many cases of foreign body in the eye. A foreign body in the eye often occurs while being in an environment that exposes one to small flying pieces of debris. Metal or glass shards are types of material that can become lodged in the eye. High-speed machines like drills and saws, hammering, and explosions are all potential causes.


Bashour, Mounir. "Corneal Foreign Body." Mar. 22, 2016. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2016

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