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See a picture
of the eye.
Chemical burns can happen if a solid
or liquid chemical or chemical fumes get into the eye. Many substances will not
cause damage if they are flushed out of the eye quickly.
Acids (such as bleach or battery acid) and
alkali substances (such as oven cleansers or fertilizers) can damage the eye. It may take 24
hours after the burn occurs to determine the seriousness of an eye burn.
Chemical fumes and vapors can also irritate the eyes.
Burns to the
eyelid or eye can cause eye problems. Blasts of hot air or steam can burn the
face and eyes. Bursts of flames or flash fires from stoves or explosives can
also burn the face and eyes. If you have burns to your eyelids, see the topic
Eyes that are not protected by a
mask or ultraviolet (UV) filtering sunglasses can be burned by exposure to the
high-intensity light of a welder's equipment (torch or arc) or to bright
sunlight (especially when the sun is reflecting off snow or water). The eyes
also may be injured by other bright lights, such as from tanning booths or
sunlamps. It may take up to 24 hours for the extent of the eye injury to be
After a burn injury to the eye, it is important to watch for
signs of an eye infection.
information about other types of eye injuries, such as blows to the eye, see
Check your symptoms to decide if
and when you should see a doctor.
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Home treatment may relieve your eye
Immediately flush the eye with cool water. This is the first step in first aid for a chemical burn or first aid for a heat burn to the eye. Fill a sink or dishpan
with water. Put your face in the water, then open and close your eyelids to
force water to all parts of your eye.
Applying first aid measures for
an eye injury to a child may be difficult depending on the child's age, size,
and ability to cooperate. Having another adult help you treat the child is
helpful. Stay calm, and talk in a soothing voice. Use slow, gentle movements to
help the child remain calm and cooperative. A struggling child may need to be
held strongly so that first aid can be started and the seriousness of the eye
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
The following tips may help prevent burns
to the eye:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
If you have had a burn
to the eye that affects your vision, have someone else drive you to your
doctor. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them, and take your glasses
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your
condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
December 23, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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