Chemical Eye Burns
- Surgical measures may be necessary after severe chemical injuries when the initial injury has healed.
- Chemical injuries may necessitate surgery to the eyelids to restore good eyelid closure to protect the eye.
- If the surface of the eye is severely damaged, a specialized set of cells called Limbal stem cells may be damaged and require replacement to prevent surface scarring.
- If the cornea becomes opaque (or cloudy) following a chemical injury, a corneal transplant may be required.
- Chemical injuries, especially from alkaline substances, can also cause cataracts and glaucoma, which may also require later surgical intervention.
If you are treated for a chemical burn to the eye in a hospital's emergency department, you should see an ophthalmologist within 24 hours. The ophthalmologist determines your continuing care.
Safety officials estimate that up to 90% of chemical eye injuries can be avoided.
- Always wear safety glasses when working with hazardous materials, both at work and at home.
- Children sustain chemical burns most often when they are unsupervised. Keep all hazardous home products away from children.
Recovery depends on the type and extent of injury.
- Chemical irritants seldom cause permanent damage.
- Recovery from acid and alkali burns depends on the depth of the injury.
The 4 grades of burns are
- Grade 1: You should recover fully.
- Grade 2: You may have some scarring, but your vision should recover.
- Grade 3: Your vision will usually be impaired to some degree.
- Grade 4: Damage to your vision likely will be severe.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
- Is there any sign of significant damage to the eye?
- What medications am I to take, and for how long?
- When am I supposed to visit the doctor for follow up again?
- Is there any chance of permanent vision loss?
For More Information
American Academy of Ophthalmology
655 Beach Street
San Francisco, CA 94120