If a chemical splashes into your eye, take these steps immediately.
1. Flush your eye with water. Use clean, lukewarm tap water for at least 20 minutes, and use whichever of these approaches is quickest:
- Get into the shower and aim a gentle stream of lukewarm water on your forehead over your affected eye. Or direct the stream on the bridge of your nose if both eyes are affected. Hold your affected eye or eyes open.
- Put your head down and turn it to the side. Then hold your affected eye open under a gently running faucet.
- Young children may do best if they lie down in the bathtub or lean back over a sink while you pour a gentle stream of water on the forehead over the affected eye or on the bridge of the nose for both eyes.
2. Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse your hands to be sure no chemical or soap is left on them. Your first goal is to get the chemical off the surface of your eye, but then you must remove the chemical from your hands.
3. Remove contact lenses. If they don't come out during the flush, then take them out.
- 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 or, if necessary, call 911 or your local emergency number. Take the chemical container or the name of the chemical with you to the emergency department. If readily available, wear sunglasses because your eyes will be sensitive to light.
- Eye safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/eye/eyesafe.html. Accessed Jan. 18, 2012.
- Kaushik S, et al. Topical chemical burns. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 18, 2012.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 21, 2012.