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       Chemical Eye Burn

Self-Care 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.
When to Seek Medical Care

The next best step if possible is to find out what type of chemical you have been exposed to. You can look on the product label or call your regional Poison Control Center to find out more information about a specific chemical.

If the chemical is an irritant (with a neutral pH) and symptoms are only minor or nonexistent, then you may monitor your condition at home with a call to your ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery). Make sure the burn does not worsen. If it does, call your ophthalmologist to arrange an appointment for that day or go to the Emergency Room if an Ophthalmologist is not available.

If you have any question about the danger of a chemical, if you do not know what it is, or if you have significant symptoms, go immediately to the nearest hospital's emergency department.

Any time you experience pain, tearing, redness, irritation, or vision loss, go to a hospital's emergency department for immediate evaluation, even if you believe the chemical is only a mild irritant.

All acid or alkali eye burns require immediate treatment and evaluation by a doctor. You should be taken immediately to the closest emergency department. If you suspect a serious injury may have occurred or are otherwise not able to make the trip to the emergency room quickly, then you should call an ambulance to shorten transport time. All industries are required to keep a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on any chemicals being used. Find this information and take it with you.



If you are treated for a chemical burn to the eye in a hospital's emergency department, you should see an ophthalmologist within 24 hours. The ophthalmologist determines your continuing care.


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 burn most often when they are unsupervised. Keep all hazardous home products away from children.


Recovery depends on the type and extent of injury.

  • Chemical irritants seldom cause permanent damage.
  • Recovery from acid and alkali burns depends on the depth of the injury.
    • The 4 grades of burns are
    • Grade 1: You should recover fully.
    • Grade 2: You may have some scarring, but your vision should recover.
    • Grade 3: Your vision will usually be impaired to some degree.
    • Grade 4: Damage to your vision likely will be severe.


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