A little girl uses glitter

Glitter is a fun, sparkly part of many arts and crafts projects, but did you know that if a stray flake of glitter gets in your eye, it can injure you?

What can glitter do to my eye?

Even though each piece of glitter is tiny, it is still made out of a tough, abrasive material, like plastic or even aluminum. Also, each piece has potentially sharp edges.

A piece of glitter in your eye could scratch your cornea. A corneal abrasion is one of the most common eye injuries, causing pain, bloodshot eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and the sensation that something is in your eye, even if nothing is there.

If an abrasion is not treated, it could become infected and turn into a corneal ulcer. Symptoms of a corneal ulcer are similar to a corneal abrasion, but also include eye discharge and mild to severe vision loss.

How do I get glitter out of my eye?

Eye doctor Casey Mathys, MD

If you do find a piece of glitter in your eye, don’t try to remove it with your fingers or something like a cotton swab. Doing so will likely just cause it to rub against the cornea and cause the very injury you’re trying to avoid. Instead, use a sterile eye wash solution or artificial tears to irrigate the eye, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Casey Mathys, MD, said. If the piece of glitter is on your eyelid, use a cotton swab or piece of tissue to try gently brushing it away.

If your child is the one with glitter in their eye, keep a close watch on them to make sure they don’t rub their eye. Follow the same steps above to clean their eye.

Do I need to see a doctor?

If you continue to have eye pain or blurred vision that is not resolved after attempting to flush the glitter from the eye, make an appointment to see an eye doctor or go to urgent care, Dr. Mathys said. They will safely remove the glitter and provide treatment for any corneal damage.

What if I have a corneal abrasion or ulcer?

A minor corneal abrasion can be treated with lubricating drops, although sometimes antibiotic drops are needed if there is a risk of infection. More serious abrasions may need antibiotic ointment and steroids to decrease inflammation and scarring. In some cases, a special bandage contact lens must be worn.

While most corneal abrasions heal completely, with no permanent vision loss, some deeper abrasions can leave scars.

If it proceeds to an ulcer, a mild infection can be treated with regular antibiotic drops. If the ulcer is more severe, it may be treated with specially-made antibiotics. Vision may or may not return to normal, depending on how much scarring you have.

Glitter can bring a lot of enjoyment to a project, and a bit of safety can help ensure an eye injury doesn’t ruin it.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Mathys practices in our SouthPark, Belmont, and Pineville offices. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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