If a chemical splashes into your eye, take these steps immediately.
- Flush your eye with water. Use clean, lukewarm tap water for at least 20 minutes. Use whichever of these approaches is quickest:
Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse your hands to be sure no chemical or soap is left on them.
Remove contact lenses. If they don't come out during the flush, then take them out.
- Get into the shower and aim a gentle stream of water on your forehead over your affected eye. Or direct the stream on the bridge of your nose if both eyes are affected. Hold the lids of your affected eye or eyes open.
- Put your head down and turn it to the side. Then hold the lids of your affected eye open under a gently running faucet. If you have access to a work site eye-rinse station, use it.
- Young children may do best if they lie down in the bathtub or lean back over a sink. Pour a gentle stream of water on the forehead over the affected eye or on the bridge of the nose to flush both eyes.
- Don't rub the eye — this may cause further damage.
- Don't put anything except water or contact lens saline rinse in the eye. And don't use eyedrops unless emergency personnel tell you to do so.
Seek emergency medical assistance
After following the above steps, seek emergency care by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) or call 911 or your local emergency number. Take the chemical container or the name of the chemical with you to the emergency provider. If readily available, wear sunglasses to help reduce sensitivity to light.
Jan. 30, 2015
- Eye safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/eye/eyesafe.html. Accessed Oct. 23, 2014.
- Kaushik S, et al. Topical chemical burns. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 23, 2014.
- Millman M, et al., eds. Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care. 6th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Subbarao I, et al., eds. American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care. New York: Random House; 2009.
- What to do in a medical emergency. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org. Accessed Oct. 23, 2014.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 5, 2014.