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Sand in the Eye? Here’s What to Do

child playing in sandEven a few small grains of sand in the eye can be incredibly uncomfortable. The good news? Our eyes are amazing and have a built in system for flushing out foreign objects.

In this article, we will cover how to remove sand from your eye, tips on how to remove sand from a child’s eye and when to see an eye doctor.

How to Get Sand from Eye

1. Blink several times and allow your tears to flush out the sand

Don’t panic, sand in the eye is not typically an emergency. First try to let your eyes take care of the sand naturally, by blinking several times and allowing your tears to wash the sand out.

2. Do NOT rub your eye

Rubbing your eyes when sand is in them can create a scratch on the surface of your eye (corneal abrasion) and can also cause an infection. Resist the urge to rub your eyes.

3. Remove contacts

Sand can get trapped behind your contacts, causing further irritation. Wash your hands and gently remove your contacts.

4. Flush Eyes with Water/Saline Solution

If there is a substantial amount of sand in your eyes, your tears might need a little boost. Flush your eyes out with clean water or saline solution while continuing to blink.

5. Lift your top eyelid over the lashes of your lower eyelid.

If you still feel particles in your eye, lift your top eyelid over the lashes of your lower eyelid. Your lower lashes will act as a broom, helping to sweep out any excess sand.

How to Get Sand from Child’s Eye

1. Clean around your child’s eye

Take a damp rag and clean around your child’s eye. This will prevent additional particles from coming in.

2. Flush out eye via water pan

Take a pan of lukewarm water and have your child place the side of their face in the pan while opening and closing their eyes several times.

3. Flush out eye with glass of water

For younger children, fill a glass with water. Tip your child’s face up and pour the water into the eye to flush out the sand. It is important for the eyelid to be open during this process. Another adult can help to gently hold your child’s eye open to ensure that water is able to get in.

Sand Stuck Behind Your Eyeball?

Many patients come to us worried that the sand has gotten lost behind their (or their child’s) eye. Luckily, this is physically impossible! The space behind the eyelid only goes back approximately 6 mm, so there is no way for anything to get stuck behind your eye.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Sand in the eye is not typically an emergency, but you should contact your doctor if the following occurs:

  • Your vision is not normal, even after your eyes have been flushed out
  • It still feels like there is sand in your eye 2+ hours after removal
  • You can’t close your eye
  • Your eye bleeds
  • Yellow or green pus comes out of your eye hours/days after you had sand in your eye

At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our eye doctors are trained in eye emergencies and can assist you if the sand in your eye becomes a problem. Our doctors are on call and ready to assist if you have any eye emergency, no matter the time or day. Call 425-481-4440 to schedule to speak with one of our eye doctors.