Ocular foreign body

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 11 Oct 2021

An ocular foreign body occurs when an orbital foreign body intrudes into the globe itself, often threatening vision, requiring urgent surgical removal.

Clinical presentation

Patients prevent in a highly variable manner based on the precise intraocular location and properties of the foreign body, as well as the presence of any associated trauma. Common symptoms include:

  • tearing
  • decreased visual acuity
  • photophobia
  • a "foreign body" sensation

Radiographic features


Available at the point-of-care as a screening tool, many foreign bodies may be accurately identified with ocular ultrasound. While sonographic findings differ based on the nature of the foreign body, common features include 2:


A CT orbits is the examination of choice, as it provides superior localization of small foreign bodies, the anatomy of the surrounding structures, and any associated injuries. Unlike MRI, it may be used in the detection of a metallic foreign body 3.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: ocular foreign body
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  • Case 2: ocular foreign body
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  • Case 3: intraorbital stiletto
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  • Case 4
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