Back to the articles

How to Get Sand Out of Your Eye

Eye Health

structure image How to Get Sand Out of Your Eye


Tips to Get Sand Out of Your Eye

If you spend any amount of time at the beach or in other sandy environments, you’ve probably had the experience of sand getting in your eyes. Many people face this issue, especially when participating in activities like swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. Those who wear contact lenses to the beach can find it especially difficult to remove small grains of sand from their eyes.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to avoid the gritty sensation and get sand out of your eyes safely. Our helpful guide will walk you through the process and provide tips to make it as easy and comfortable as possible.

What Happens When Sand Gets in Your Eyes?

Our eyes have a built-in defense system to help protect them from dust, dirt, and sand particles. Eyelashes trap particles before they reach the eye, and blinking pushes them away. Tears also help flush unwanted debris from the eyes. However, even with this defense system, sand can still get in the eyes and cause discomfort. Symptoms may include:

  • Redness
  • Pain or a burning sensation
  • Dry eye or a scratchy sensation when blinking
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive tearing/watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity

Sand can often be removed from the eye by following the techniques outlined below.

How to Remove Sand From Your Eyes

Before attempting to remove sand from your eyes, make sure your hands are clean. Next, find a well-lit area with a mirror to get a better view of the affected area. A bathroom is often ideal since it generally has all the necessary items.

Here's a step-by-step guide for getting the sand out:

  • If you wear contacts, carefully remove each contact lens and place it in a clean contact lens case filled with fresh saline solution. This is important because sand can get trapped beneath the lens and scratch the cornea.
  • Flush the irritated eye, including the lower lid and upper lid, with sterile eye wash, saline solution, or warm, clean water. You can use an eyedropper or a small cup to pour the saline or water if needed. (Artificial tears may also be used to flush the eye if you don’t have anything else on hand.)
  • Blink several times to spread the saline solution or water around. Any particles should flush away or float to the outer corners of the eye.
  • Once the sand is out, rest your eye for a few minutes and avoid using contact lenses until the irritation has subsided.

What to Avoid During Sand Removal

Removing sand from your eye is a simple yet delicate process. To help prevent injury, avoid techniques that could worsen symptoms and cause further eye irritation, including:

  • Rubbing your eye. It can be tempting to rub your eye when it feels uncomfortable. However, this may cause the sand to scratch your cornea and prolong the irritation or cause further damage.
  • Touching your eye. Avoid touching your eye directly with your fingers or items like cotton swabs. This can spread bacteria and cause an eye infection.
  • Using redness-relieving eye drops.These eye drops aren’t designed to remove small particles from the eye and can be painful to use if you have a scratched cornea.

The Risks of Not Removing Sand From Your Eye

TAn abrasion (or scratch) on the cornea is one of the most common risks associated with having sand in your eye. This can be painful and result in redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light, among other effects. A corneal abrasion can heal within 24 to 48 hours but should be taken seriously. Avoid wearing contact lenses until the corneal abrasion is healed.

Ulcers or infections can also occur if the cornea is scratched. These will require medical attention and can lead to long-term vision problems if not treated properly.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you're unable to remove the sand on your own or if you experience the following symptoms, see an eye doctor or go to an emergency room immediately:

  • Increased pain and redness in the affected eye
  • Decreased vision even after debris removal
  • Discharge or pus from the affected eye

An eye doctor can diagnose a corneal abrasion, identify any underlying issues, and provide treatment for eye injuries. A slit lamp exam may also be necessary to get a better view of the affected area.

Ointments and antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed to treat infections and lubricate the eye. You should use these as directed by your eye care provider.

How to Prevent Sand From Getting in Your Eyes

If you're unable to remove the sand on your own or if you experience the following symptoms, see an eye doctor or go to an emergency room immediately:

  • Increased pain and redness in the affected eye
  • Decreased vision even after debris removal
  • Discharge or pus from the affected eye

It's not always possible to avoid sand getting in your eyes, but there are ways to preserve your eye health and reduce your risk. Protective eyewear can block debris and provide a barrier between your eyes and the environment. People who work in sandy or dusty environments should wear the appropriate goggles to avoid long-term damage.

When enjoying outdoor activities, wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to keep sand away from your face. People who wear contact lenses should take extra care when in sandy areas and use a solution to clean their lenses before putting them back in.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself From Sand in Your Eyes

Sand in the eyes can be irritating, but it doesn't have to ruin your day. With a few simple steps and precautionary measures, you can often remove sand from your eyes with ease. Remember to always take your time and be gentle during the removal process. If irritation continues, seek medical attention or schedule an eye exam right away.

ContactsDirect offers a wide selection of contact lenses and solutions. Browse our selection today to find the perfect option for your needs.