Whitby Family Eye Care, Dr.Leslie Fitzgerald & Associates
25 Thickson Rd Whitby ON L1N 8W8 (905) 728-7017
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Whitby, ON
(905) 728-7017

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Is Something Stuck in Your Eye, or Do You Have Dry Eye?

A young girl walking in the street with a burning sensation in her eye, irritation from car smoke in the city, and dust.

Irritated, watery eyes are as uncomfortable as they are disruptive, but could they indicate a more significant issue? Or could it be as simple as a small particle of dust or debris stuck in your eye?

This is a question many people ask themselves whenever they feel eye discomfort. And while there are numerous strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms, regular discomfort could be a sign of dry eye.

We’ll look at the difference between the types of discomfort you may experience and determine if your symptoms could use help from our dry eye services at Whitby Family Eye Care. If you or someone you know is struggling with eye comfort concerns, get the care you need and request an appointment today.

What Can Stick in Your Eye?

Let’s start by looking at what could get in your eye and cause discomfort. Some of the most common types of foreign debris include:

  • Eyelashes
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Dust
  • Eye makeup
  • Dried mucus

Foreign debris on the surface of your eye can cause issues like pain, wateriness, redness, and light sensitivity. Still, these typically only last a short while if the object is small enough to be washed away by your tears. In some cases, simple measures like eye drops can help provide relief.

However, larger items or metal and wooden objects can cause serious problems and possibly damage your eye. In these situations, we recommend speaking to our team and visiting us for an emergency eye exam.

If your discomfort returns regularly, then it might be possible you’re struggling with dry eye syndrome.

Dry Eye & How It Affects Your Eye Comfort

Dry eye syndrome is a common and often chronic eye condition. It can occur for several reasons, but the risk of developing dry eye can change depending on your age, genetics, and even your environment.

Minor cases of dry eye may be treatable using tried-and-true methods like eye drops, but other issues can persist for years and possibly worsen over time. If you have a more serious form of dry eye, our team can create a personalized plan to help alleviate your symptoms.

Let’s look at what dry eye is, how it develops, and why it can have symptoms similar to when you have something in your eye.

Your Tear Film

Before we look at what causes dry eye, it’s important to understand the role your tear film plays in your eye comfort. Your tear film is a layer of tears that covers your eye’s surface. It’s made of 3 essential components:

  • Mucus that helps adhere your tear film to your eyes.
  • Water that hydrates your eyes while washing away debris and bacteria.
  • Oil that seals in your tear film and prevents it from evaporating.

The type of dry eye you develop can compromise one or more of these components, causing discomfort and irritation.


There are 2 specific types of dry eye:

Evaporative Dry Eye

Evaporative dry eye occurs when your tear film doesn’t have enough oil to keep it from evaporating. One of the most common causes of evaporative dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction.

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when your meibomian glands, the glands in your eyelids responsible for producing oil for your tear film, become clogged, inflamed, or damaged. As a result, you can experience several dry eye symptoms, including the sensation of something being stuck in your eye.

A close-up of a woman with a red eye caused by dry eye

Aqueous Tear Deficiency

Aqueous tear deficiency occurs when your tear film doesn’t contain the water it needs to keep your eyes hydrated and protected from foreign debris.

This type of dry eye can develop for various reasons, but certain health conditions like Sjögren’s syndrome can increase your risk. Certain medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, and chemotherapy can also increase your risk of developing aqueous tear deficiency.


Though there are different causes for dry eye, they share many of the same symptoms—including the sensation of something stuck in your eye. Other common symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stringy discharge
  • Itchiness
  • Irritation

So, Is Something Stuck in Your Eye?

But If your discomfort only lasts for a short time, you might have had something stuck in your eye but your tears were able to wash it out. However, if you consistently feel like something is disrupting your eye comfort, it might be time to visit us at Whitby Family Eye Care. The way dry eye syndrome affects your eyes can make it feel like something is stuck in them. But we can help you find relief. Though dry eye syndrome is common, you deserve clear, comfortable sight. Please speak to one of our team members about our strategies and request an appointment today!

Visit Our Location in Whitby

Whitby Family Eye Care is at the north east corner of Thickson Rd & Hwy 2, in the KFC plaza. Parking is conveniently located right outside the practice.

Our team of optometrists at Whitby Family Eye Care are proud to offer the following eye care services:

  • Eye Exams
  • Eye Issues and Diseases
  • Laser Eye Surgery Consultation
  • Dry Eye Treatment
  • Emergency Eye Care
  • Contact us today by booking an appointment online or giving us a call, and we will be happy to assist you.


    25 Thickson Rd North
    Whitby, ON, L1N 8W8

    Contact Information

    Phone: (905) 728-7017
    Fax: (905) 728-0865


    If you have an emergency, please visit your nearest emergency department or health care physician.

    Monday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
    Saturday: By Appointment Only
    Sunday: Closed
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