Emergency advice

Chemical burns to the eye:

  1. Put on protective gloves.
  2. Keep the eye under running water for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Make sure contaminated water does not splash the casualty or you.
  4. Ask casualty to hold a pad over their eye.
  5. Call 999.

What is a chemical burn to the eye?

Splashes of chemical substances to the eye can cause a serious injury if not treated quickly. These may occur with household products and in the workplace. Some chemicals can damage the surface of the eye and result in scarring or even blindness.

You will need to wash out the eye straight away to dilute and disperse the chemical. Make sure the contaminated water does not splash you or the casualty. If they are available, put on gloves to protect yourself before treating the casualty.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • intense pain in the eye
  • inability to open the injured eye
  • redness and swelling around the eye
  • a significant amount of watering of the eye
  • chemical substances near the casualty.

What to do

  1. Put on protective gloves if they’re available. Hold the casualty’s eye under gently running water for at least 20 minutes and make sure the outside and inside of the eyelid is washed.

    • If the casualty’s eye is shut due to pain, gently but firmly open it so it can be washed out.
  2. Make sure the contaminated water does not splash the uninjured eye, you or the casualty.

  3. Ask the casualty to hold a clean non-fluffy pad over the injured eye and bandage in place.

  4. Call 999 or 112. If you know what chemicals might have been involved in the accident, pass this information on to the medical professionals.

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