Corneal Foreign Bodies

The cornea is the clear, soft, and very sensitive structure that covers the color part of the eye. Anyone that has ever had a corneal abrasion can tell you how painful the cornea can become when damaged. Many work related activities lead to foreign body fragments becoming embedded into the cornea. The most common materials are metal fragments, and the typical activities are drilling or cutting metal, or working underneath a car.

Once these metallic fragments embed themselves into the cornea, because of the high oxygen content on the surface of the eye, they immediately begin to rust. The resulting rust ring further embeds itself leading to more pain and irritation. Sometimes these fragments can be removed with a cotton swab, but once they have rusted and embedded into the cornea it often requires an eye care specialist to remove it and possible burr the rust out. So always, always wear safety eye protection when performing any activity that may expel foreign bodies near the eye, and if you think you may have sustained an injury or foreign body to the eye, seek treatment immediately.


Corneal metallic foreign body and rust ring (arrow) before
and immediately after removal and burring of rust ring.