We anesthetize the cornea with eye drops and then remove the foreign body using a small tool and a high-powered biomicroscope to allow for easy visualization. If the metal fragment has been in the cornea for much more than one day, the rusting increases and permeates deeper into the cornea. We must remove this rust or the eye will not heal properly. We use a low intensity spinning burr to remove this rust, and this unfortunately leaves a corneal scar and lengthens the healing time.
The important point I am trying to make is the sooner we get to remove the metal, the less chance there is of complications and the quicker the healing process. It is much better when we see these patients the same day they get the foreign body into their eye. We have an emergency phone number listed on our answering machine. We will see established patients in the evening or on the weekends who have these types of problems. We would much prefer to fix this problem on a Saturday then deal with a more painful and serious problem on Monday morning!