- Chemical gets into the eye from fingers, an object, spray or splash
- For strong chemicals, quickly flushing the eye with tap water is critical. Reason: to prevent any damage to vision.
- Most chemicals are harmless (soap, hair spray, sunscreen). They cause no symptoms or brief tearing.
- Some chemicals cause brief stinging and irritation (pink eye), but no eye damage.
- Acids and alkalis splashed into the eye cause severe eye pain. Examples are toilet bowl or oven cleaners. They can severely damage the eye and sometimes even cause blindness.
- The following products are harmless to the eye: bubble bath, cosmetics, deodorant, and foods. Other examples are glow stick liquid, hair conditioner, hair spray, hand lotion, liquid medicines. Shampoo, shaving cream, soap, sunscreen, and toothpaste are also harmless.
- Hydrogen peroxide, ethyl alcohol, gasoline, swimming pool water and vinegar are also harmless. But, these products can cause eye redness and stinging.
- Eye contact with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl or hand sanitizer) is most often harmless, But it can cause a burn on the cornea. If symptoms occur, they will often go away with brief washing out of the eye now. If symptoms remain, go to the ER.
Harmful Chemicals: You Need to Prevent Chemical Burns of The Cornea
- Eye contact with acids or alkalis can cause severe damage to the eye. For these products, wash out the eye with water for 20 minutes now. Then, go to the ER. Knowing which it is doesn't matter for First Aid.
- Acids. Acids include any product labeled as an acid. Drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and metal cleaners should be assumed to be acids.
- Alkalis. Alkalis include lime, lye, hydroxides and industrial-strength ammonia. Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, bathroom cleaners, or industrial cleaners should be assumed to be alkalis.
- Weak Alkalis. Household bleach, household ammonia and the contents of laundry or dish detergent pods (gel pacs) are weak alkalis. These products usually don't cause eye damage if the eye is promptly washed out. For these chemicals, wash out the eye for 10 minutes. Then call the Poison Center. They will tell you if the product is harmful. They can also tell you if you need to be seen.