Blog Hero

Why Does It Feel Like Something Is in My Eye? in Surprise, AZ

Book Appointment
A woman outdoors winces in pain and rubs both her eyes

It’s happened to almost everyone. You find yourself blinking repeatedly, convinced there’s a tiny speck in your eye, only to find nothing. This common sensation can be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable. But why does it feel like something is in your eye even when there isn’t?

Feeling like something is in your eye is sometimes called foreign body sensation and it can be a symptom of many ocular problems, including dry eye, corneal scratches, allergies, and more. However, sometimes there is really something in your eye. But whatever the case, your eye doctor can help you pinpoint the cause and feel comfortable again.

What Is Foreign Body Sensation?

Foreign body sensation is the term used to describe the feeling that something is in your eye when there actually isn’t. Imagine walking through a windy park and feeling tiny specks of dust hitting your eyes. This sensation can be distracting and uncomfortable, making it hard to focus on tasks.

For those with dry eye syndrome, the lack of proper lubrication on the eye’s surface can lead to this sensation. This feeling can worsen when you blink. If you rub your dry hands together, you can feel heat forming, so you can imagine what happens when dry eyelids rub over dry eyes. Without adequate moisture, the eyes become irritated, mimicking the feeling of having a foreign object in them.

How Dry Eye Causes Foreign Body Sensation

Dry eye happens when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or they evaporate too quickly. Tears are essential for keeping your eyes healthy and your vision crystal clear. They consist of 3 layers: oily, watery, and mucus. If these layers aren’t balanced, you can end up with dry eyes.

When your eyes aren’t well-lubricated, it can feel like there’s something in your eye even when there isn’t. Normally, tears create a smooth film that keeps your eyes comfortable and moist. But if this film breaks down, dry spots form, causing friction with every blink. This leads to irritation and the annoying sensation of having a phantom eyelash in your eye.

Plus, without enough lubrication, the eye’s surface can get inflamed, making that irritating feeling even worse. Managing dry eye symptoms is key to feeling better and saying goodbye to that pesky phantom eyelash sensation!

Close-up of red and irritated eyes caused by severe dry eye.

Other Reasons It Feels Like Something Is in Your Eye

While dry eye is a common cause of this sensation, other factors can also be responsible. In fact, sometimes these factors can cause dry eye and foreign body sensation. That’s why it’s important to identify the root cause of your symptoms. 

Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions are like tiny scratches on the cornea, the clear, protective layer of your eye. They can happen from accidental trauma, like poking your eye, or when pesky particles like sand or dust get stuck under your eyelid.

These injuries can be quite painful, often making it feel like there’s something in your eye. Quick medical attention is key to prevent infections and promote proper healing.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are open sores on the cornea, usually caused by severe infections from extended contact lens wear, eye injuries, or immune issues. They often make you feel like there’s something stuck in your eye, along with redness, discharge, and blurred vision.

These ulcers need prompt medical treatment to avoid serious complications and permanent vision damage.


Blepharitis is the inflammation of your eyelids, typically at the base of your eyelashes. When bacteria and debris build up along your eyelids, it creates a haven for mites to move in. This creates a persistent inflammation, leading to symptoms including itching, burning, and a gritty feeling that often mimics having a foreign body in your eye. It’s also a primary cause of dry eye. 

Managing this chronic condition effectively requires proper eyelid hygiene and maybe some deep cleaning using BlephEx.


Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent layer covering the white part of your eye and the inside of your eyelids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies.

Along with feeling like something is in your eye, you’ll likely recognize it by the signature pinkish-red color along with possible discharge and crusting around the eyelids. Treatment varies depending on the cause and may include antihistamines, antibiotics, or antiviral medications.

Clear Your Vision with West Valley

Feeling like something is stuck in your eye but you can’t get it out can be both frustrating and concerning. Once you’re sure it’s not an errant eyelash, seeking help from a professional is the first step toward finding relief.

Instead of struggling with persistent dry eye symptoms, book an appointment with us! Our West Valley Dry Eye team is here to help you find the relief you need with our diverse range of treatment options. Take control of your eye health with IPL therapy, BlephEx, nutrition advice, and more. It’s all here, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Written by West Valley Dry Eye

More Articles By West Valley Dry Eye
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax