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First Aid & Emergencies

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Chemical Eye Burn Treatment

1. Flush the Eye

  • Have the person immediately rinse the eye or eyes under a faucet, in a gentle shower, or with a clean container of water. Keep the person’s face so that the injured eye is down and to the side. Avoid spraying a high-pressure water stream into the eye or eyes.
  • Flush with lukewarm water for 15 to 30 minutes. For severe burns, continue flushing until you see a doctor or you arrive in an emergency room. The person should keep the eye open as wide as possible. Wash the person's hands thoroughly to make sure no chemical is still on them.
  • Flush the eye to remove contact lenses. If they do not come out, try to gently remove them AFTER flushing.
  • Do not rub the eye or place a bandage over the eye.
  • While waiting for medical care, have the person wear sunglasses to decrease light sensitivity.

2. Get Help Immediately

  • Call 911 for severe burns, otherwise see a doctor as soon as possible. Be aware that alkali chemicals (such as ammonia and oven cleaner) might not be painful but they can cause the most serious injuries.
  • Make sure you know what chemical got into the eye so the medical team can give the right treatment.
  • While waiting for medical care, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or the emergency number on the container if you have it for further advice.

3. Follow Up

  • The health care provider may continue flushing the eye with saline solution, checking periodically until pH is normal.
  • The health care provider may place anesthetic drugs in the eye to decrease discomfort with flushing.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 19, 2013

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