What Causes a Foreign Body Sensation In My Eye?


Do you often feel discomfort in your eye?  Do you experience irritation, itchiness, or dry itchy eyes? Do you have watery or painful eyes? If yes, then you could be experiencing a foreign body sensation. Typically, foreign body sensation originates from the cornea. There are several causes of foreign body sensation. Common causes include:

Dry Eyes

Your eyes may feel scratchy even when there is nothing in them. This could be a result of dry eye syndrome, commonly caused by a faulty tear film on the eye’s surface. Your eyes need a constant layer of tears to stay healthy and moist. Sometimes, they may not produce enough tears or make the right type of lubricating tear film. As a result, the tears may evaporate quickly, leading to dry eye syndrome. Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • Excessive tearing followed by long times of dryness
  • Blurry vision
  • A stinging or burning sensation
  • A feeling of grit or scratchiness in the eyes
  • Irritated and red eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lens

Dry eye syndrome can affect anyone. However, you may be more susceptible to it if you:

  • Are fifty years or older
  • Are a woman going through menopause
  • Wear contact lenses
  • Your diet is low in Vitamin A or Omega-3 fatty acids
  • You suffer from an autoimmune condition
  • You work on a computer for long hours
  • You live in a dry, hot, or windy climate
  • You have direct air conditioning or heating blowing on you

Usually, over-the-counter eye drops can help with dry eye syndrome. In addition, lifestyle changes like taking regular breaks from your computer and using a humidifier can help. 

Stye or Chalazion

Styes or chalazion are bumps that form on your eyelids. A chalazion is a painless bump that may occur on your lower or upper eyelid. It could be external or internal. It typically forms around an oil gland in the eyelid, causing redness or swelling. 

A stye, on the other hand, is an infection that leads to a red, tender bump at the edge of the eyelid. It can also appear at the base of an eyelash or in one of the small oil glands in the eyelid. It can feel like a tender and painful pimple and make your eyes scratchy and sore.


Blepharitis is a common eye condition resulting from inflammation of the eyelids. It typically occurs due to the clogging and infection of the lubricating eye glands located at the base of your eyelashes. The clogging of these glands leads to bacteria buildup. As a result, your eyes will become slightly swollen, red, and crusty with debris caught in the eyelashes. They may also feel itchy and irritated. Common symptoms of Blepharitis include:

  • A feeling of something being in your eyes
  • Irritation and redness
  • A gritty feeling
  • Stinging or burning
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Crusts on the eyelids, especially when you wake up in the morning
  • Greasy eyelids
  • Possible lash loss in long-term cases

Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a clear and thin membrane covering the white of your eye and the inner surface of your eyelid. The inflammation caused by this condition can give you the feeling of something being stuck in your eyes. Conjunctivitis could be caused due to allergies, bacteria, or viruses. Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Red eyes
  • A gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Itching
  • Stinging and burning
  • Puffy and watery eyes
  • Discharge from your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

A Cut or Scratched Cornea

The cornea is the clear tissue that covers your eye’s pupil and iris. Sometimes, it can get cut or scratched. In medical terms, it is called a corneal abrasion. You could accidentally scratch your cornea with your fingernails, due to overwear of contact lenses, mascara or makeup brushes, or even a tree branch. You could also get a corneal abrasion if you have dry eye syndrome and rub your eyes. A corneal abrasion can make you feel like something is stuck in your eye. Other common symptoms of corneal abrasions include:

  • Painful and red eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

Corneal abrasions can be extremely painful as the cornea contains several nerve cells. A corneal abrasion could take one or two days to heal. However, if it is a large abrasion, it may take up to one week to heal. 

Trichiasis or Interned Eyelashes

When your eyelashes are misdirected or point backward and irritate the eye surface, it is called trichiasis. Common symptoms of trichiasis, besides feeling like there is something in your eye, include pain, redness, light sensitivity, and tearing. The condition can be treated by removing the misdirected eyelashes and treating any corneal injury that may have occurred. You may have to undergo electrolysis to permanently remove your eyelashes if this is a recurring problem.

Corneal Foreign Body

Sometimes, a foreign object may lodge itself in your cornea and cause tearing, pain, light sensitivity, or blurred vision. Usually, the most common corneal foreign body is a rusted metallic particle. The small chards of metal may lodge themselves in your cornea and rust. As the rusted particle stays in the cornea, your eyes may get more irritated. In most cases, you could be left with a scar on your cornea that affects your vision after the foreign body is removed.

Foreign Body Under the Eyelid

Debris can enter your eyes and get trapped under the upper eyelid. This often leads to foreign body sensations, redness, excessive tearing, and pain. This debris could be anything, ranging from a paper-thin fragment of plant material to dust. 

Spontaneous Corneal Erosion

Once your cornea gets scratched, it can heal on the surface rapidly to cover the defect. However, it will take longer for the area to heal completely and become firmly bonded. In some people, the part of their cornea that was injured could be permanently weakened. In such situations, even rubbing your eyes or the eye-opening could cause trauma and irritation, leading to foreign body sensations.

Other Causes of Foreign Body Sensation

While the above-mentioned are the most common causes of foreign body sensation in the eyes, the feeling could also be caused by infections like herpes simplex virus, fungal infections, or growths in your eyes.

If you feel like something is stuck in your eyes and making it uncomfortable for you to open your eyes or see anything, then it is best to visit a medical professional and get your eyes checked.

Browsing https://dryeyedirectory.com/dry-eyes/ can help you identify the cause of your foreign body sensation and guide you to a specialist who can help you treat the condition causing the feeling.

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