Many household cleaners are incredibly destructive if you get them in your eye. You may not worry about cleaners that you use frequently, but commonly used products such as toilet bowl cleaner, bleach, or drain cleaner have the potential to seriously injure or even blind you. Here's what you need to know about chemical eye injuries.
Why do cleaners hurt your eyes?
Cleaning products are made of either acids or alkali, and both of these substances are corrosive. They need to be corrosive to dissolve drain clogs, destroy bacteria, and all the other things that you expect household cleaners to do. However, these same properties make the cleaners dangerous to your eyes, as your eyes are made of soft tissues and mucus membranes that are very delicate.
What should you do if you get cleaner in your eyes?
If you accidentally splash toilet bowl cleaner or another type of household cleaner into your eyes, you need to act quickly. Flush your eyes out immediately for the amount of time that the packaging recommends. An eye wash station is ideal for this, but if you don't have one, use water from a faucet or a clean cup.
How are chemical eye injuries treated?
Even if you think your injuries are minor, you need to see your optometrist right away. Acidic chemicals are very painful when you get them in your eye, but alkali chemicals aren't, so you can be seriously injured without knowing it. Your optometrist will first examine your eyes to determine the severity of your injuries.
Treatment methods can vary a lot, depending on how seriously your eyes are injured. In minor cases, may only need some anesthetic eye drops and antibiotic ointment. In more serious cases, you may be sent to the hospital or referred to an ophthalmologist for surgical treatments such as debridement of dead tissue or corneal transplantation.
What are the long-term consequences of chemical eye injuries?
Complications such as corneal abrasions or ulcers, high pressure inside the eye (glaucoma), cataracts, and scarring of the cornea can all result from this type of injury. Your cornea can thin or even perforate, and the area can become infected. Even with treatment, you may still experience vision loss or even blindness after a chemical eye injury due to these complications.
Chemical eye injuries have the potential to be very serious, so always wear safety goggles when you're working with household cleaners. If you splash a cleaner in your eye, flush your eye and see your optometrist, like those at Whiteville Eye Associates, immediately.