Chemical Eye Burns

Chemical eye burns are a true emergency. The affected eye needs immediate treatment to reduce harmful effects.The severity depends on types of chemical, pH value, amount, and duration that the eye is exposed to them. It is usually either acid or alkaline, or irritating substances. 

  1. Work injuries such as chemical splash to the eye in a fabric dyeing factory, while working with car batteries, floor cleaning solution splash while cleaning the bathroom, etc. Some got their eyes injury from carbon dioxide powder while trying to put off the fire and the carbon dioxide tank is exploded.
  2. Physical abuse such as acid thrown directly to the face and hurt both eyes.
Questions....Acid or alkaline is more hazardous?
  1. Alkaline is more hazardous to the eyes than acid. Alkaline damages cell membrane, thus rapidly penetrates into the eye.
    Alkaline that are mostly found to cause eye injuries are ammonia, caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), lime, potassium hydroxide. Most of them are chemicals used for household cleaning.
    Acid that are mostly found to cause eye injuries are sulfuric acid in car batteries. The most hazardous acid is hydrofluoric acid used in glass crafting industry.
  1. If it occurs to eyelids, eye membrane, cornea, the affected eyes will be swollen and red, have a burning sensation, irritating and tearing, unable to fully open the eyes. If the cornea is affected, the patient will have blurred vision. Examination result will show less ability to see. In severe case the cornea will be turning to white, eye membrane is inflamed, red, and detached.
  2. If the eyes are so much damaged, complications could occur, including misshaped eye lid, eyelash curled inward or outward, severely dried eyes, eye membrane is attached to eyelid causing the patient unable to roll eyes or open eyes, cloudy cornea, blood vessels appear on the cornea, and thinning of cornea that it could be torn.
  3. Glaucoma, cataract, or permanent blindness.
Wash your eyes with clean water that you could find the nearest. If there is none, wash with tap water for 20-30 minutes, depending on type of chemicals and how much you get.

Washing with a lot of running water immediately to dilute chemical concentration in the eye is the most important and effective way to minimize chemical hazard that could damage the eyes.

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