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What is a chemical eye injury? — A chemical eye injury is when a chemical gets into the eye and harms it. Different types of chemicals can cause a chemical eye injury. Examples include chemicals found in cleaning products, bleach, hair dyes, and lawn fertilizers.
Some chemicals cause only mild or short-term symptoms. Other chemicals can cause severe damage, including scarring of the cornea (the clear tissue that covers the pupil and colored part of the eye (figure 1)) or vision loss. How mild or serious an injury is depends on:
●The type of chemical
●How long the chemical is in the eye
●How far into the eye the chemical spreads
What are the symptoms of a chemical eye injury? — The symptoms can include:
●Being unable to open your eye
●Redness of the white part of your eye
●Bright light bothering your eye
Is there anything I can do on my own to treat a chemical eye injury? — Yes. Wash the chemical out of your eye right away with water. You can put your eye under a faucet or shower. Use cool water, and try to wash out your eye for 15 to 30 minutes. If you have contact lenses in, do not remove your lenses first. If the chemical got only in 1 eye, keep your other eye closed so the chemical doesn't flow into that eye. Do not rub or press on your eye.
Should I see a doctor or nurse? — Yes. After you wash out your eye, see a doctor or nurse right away.
Will I need tests? — No. But your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and the chemical that got in your eye, and do an exam.
How is a chemical eye injury treated? — The doctor or nurse will continue to wash the chemical out of your eye. Depending on the chemical, this can last hours.
Other treatments will likely include:
●Pain-relieving eye drops
●Eye drops or ointments to help prevent an infection
Depending on your injury, you might also need to see an eye specialist.
Can a chemical eye injury be prevented? — Yes. You can help prevent a chemical eye injury by wearing safety glasses or goggles when you work with chemicals. Keep cleaning supplies out of your child's reach to help prevent them from getting a chemical eye injury.
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