First Aid for Eyes

First aid, no matter how simple, can make the difference in saving your eyesight. When an emergency happens, it is important to seek medical attention for your eyes immediately after injury. A severe injury can lead to infection, vision loss, or blindness. Using some of these simple first aid techniques when an accident happens may help save your sight or the sight of someone else:

First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will prevent further contamination or infection.

Try flushing the eye. Using your finger and thumb, gently pull the upper eyelid down over the top of the lower eyelid. This should cause tearing and flush the object out. You may need to repeat this action several times.

If tearing does not work, you may try flushing the particle out using cool water for as long as necessary. This can be done in a sink, with an outside hose, or a glass of water that is contaminant-free.

If you can see the object, you may try to remove it with a washcloth. Gently lift the upper or lower eyelid, and use a clean, wet washcloth to wipe the object away. If this does not work, seek immediate medical attention.


This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit or This document was last reviewed on: 3/5/2009