Chemical exposure to any part of the eye or eyelid may result in a chemical eye burn. chemical eye burn represent 7-10% of eye injuries. About 15-20% of burns to the face involve at least one eye. Although many burns result in only minor discomfort, every chemical exposure or burn should be taken seriously. Permanent damage is possible and can be blinding and life-altering.
The severity of a burn depends on what substance caused it, how long the substance had contact with the eye, and how the injury is treated. Damage is usually limited to the front segment of the eye, including the cornea, (the clear front surface of the eye responsible for good vision, which is most frequently affected), the conjunctiva (the layer covering the white part of the eye), and occasionally the internal eye structures of the eye, including the lens.Burns that penetrate deeper than the cornea are the most severe, often causing cataracts and glaucoma
Most chemical eye injuries occur at work. Industries use a variety of chemicals daily. However, chemical injuries also frequently occur at home from cleaning products or other regular household products; these injuries can be just as dangerous and must be treated seriously and immediately.
Treating a Chemical Eye Burn at Home
For all chemical injuries, the first thing you should do is immediately irrigate the eye copiously. Ideally, specific eye irrigating solutions should be used for this, but if none are available regular tap water will do just fine.
- Begin washing your eye before taking any other action and continue for at least 10 minutes. The longer a chemical is in your eye, the more damage will occur. Diluting the substance and washing away any particles that may have been in the chemical are extremely important.
- Ideally, in a work setting, you would be placed in an emergency eyewash or shower station and your eye washed with sterile isotonic saline solution. If sterile saline is not available, use cold tap water.
- If you are at home and do not have special eye wash, step into the shower with your clothes on to wash out your eye.
- Even though it may be uncomfortable, open your eyelids as wide as possible as you rinse them out.
- If an alkali or hydrofluoric acid burn has occurred, continue washing until a doctor arrives or you have been taken to a hospital's emergency department.
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.