If a liquid, powder or aerosol chemical splashes into your eye, take these steps immediately.
- Flush your eye with water. Use cool tap water for at least 15 minutes, following whichever of these approaches is quickest:
Remove contact lenses. If they don't come out during the flush, then take them out.
- Get into the shower and hold the lids of your affected eye or eyes open. 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.
- 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. Hold their eyelids open.
- 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.
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. Report how much time passed between the splash and the flushing, and for how many minutes the eye was flushed.
If readily available, wear sunglasses to help reduce sensitivity to light on the way to the emergency appointment.
March 01, 2018
- Recognizing and treating eye injuries. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/injuries. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
- Kaushik S, et al. Topical chemical burns. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
- First aid for eye scratches. Dos and don'ts when you scratch your eye. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/first-aid-eye-scratches. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
- Eye emergencies and wounds. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/Emergency-101/Emergencies-A-Z/Eye-Emergencies-and-Wounds/. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
- AskMayoExpert. Eye trauma. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- Softing Hataye AL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 9, 2018.
- Baratz KH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 9, 2018.