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Eye Injury: First Aid for Chemical Burns

British Columbia Specific Information

Any burn injury to the eye requires medical attention as soon as possible. Provide first aid, such as immediately flushing the eye with cool water, until the injured person can be transported for medical aid to stop further injury to the eye.

If you are concerned about a possible chemical burn, call Poison Control right away at 1-800-567-8911 toll-free in British Columbia or 604-682-5050 in Greater Vancouver. If you are concerned about a burn to the eye, call 9-1-1. For more information call 8-1-1 or your health care provider immediately, as a burn to the eye requires medical attention as soon as possible. For more information on chemical burns, visit the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre website.

Topic Overview

  • Immediately

    flush the eye

    with cool water. Quickly diluting the chemical reduces the chance of serious eye damage. 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. You can also flush your eye gently under a running faucet, kitchen sink sprayer, or shower. You may need to open and close your eyelids with your fingers. Move your eye in all directions during the flushing so that all areas of your eye are rinsed. This is the first thing a doctor would do.
  • Call a poison control centre for more information about how to treat the burn. When you call the poison control centre, have the chemical container with you, so you can read the content label to the poison control person.
  • Keep flushing the eye for 30 minutes or until it stops hurting, whichever takes longer. When flushing, pull the lower and upper eyelid forward to make sure any solid or liquid chemical caught in these areas is rinsed away. If severe pain continues after flushing, call 911 or other emergency services and continue flushing the eye to rinse away the chemical.
  • After flushing the eye, wear dark glasses. Do not bandage or put any pressure on the eye. Keeping the eye closed may help reduce pain.

Credits

Current as of:
February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine