You’ve probably had an eyelash get into your eye at some point in your life—you might even have one in there right now! Though irritating, almost all eyelashes leave your eye as soon as they enter.
But what happens to an eyelash that stays in your eye for what seems like forever? Where does it stay? How does it get out? Here’s a quick look at the journey of an eyelash once it falls into your eye.
How Objects get into Your Eye
To help keep objects and debris out of our eyes and to remove them once they’re in, our bodies use built-in, biological mechanisms. Eyebrows steer particle-laden forehead sweat down the sides of your face. Blinking re-moistens your eyeball while tears flush objects to the surface. Eyelashes themselves help sweep objects out.
But sometimes a dust particle or small debris—like an eyelash—may find its way past your defenses and into your eye. This may happen due to lack of eye protection, from using contaminated eye drops or makeup, or from sheer luck (or unluck).
Where Eyelashes Go
Contrary to the myth, eyelashes rarely fall behind your eyeball. A layer of muscle and tissue block the front half of the eye from the back, and only with a tear in this lining from heavy trauma can this layer break.
Most of the time, when you feel an eyelash in your eye, it moves around the surface of your eyeball like an ice cube on a tile floor. It may also move underneath your upper or lower eyelids.
Your body will naturally remove objects from your eye by blinking and creating extra tears. Your eyes often push out debris—including eyelashes—while you sleep. Ever wake up with “sand” on the edge of your eyelids and a few spare eyelashes mixed in? Bingo.
Smaller particles can travel down thin drains in the corner of your eyes (called puncta) through the canaliculi channel and out your nose. (This is the same reason your nose runs when you cry. Tears move down this channel and—hopefully—into a tissue).
How to Remove Something from your Eye
If the natural processes of producing tears or sleep don’t remove foreign objects from your eye, try these tactics:
- Gently rinse with clean water
- Use eye drops (check the expiration date!)
- Rapid blinking, but not too much as the object may scratch your eyeball
- Gently wipe with a clean tissue or cotton swab
- Note: Avoid using your finger to minimize contamination
- If nothing else works, see an eye care specialist