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What to do when you get chemicals splashed into your eyes?

If your eye is exposed to chemicals, the most important way you can limit the damage is to start flushing the eye with water immediately. Use a strong steady stream of clean water. Arrange for immediate evaluation by a doctor. Continue the flushing until you are ready to go.

If a chemical splashes into your eye, take these steps immediately:

  1. Flush your eye with water. Use clean, lukewarm tap water for at least 20 minutes. Use whichever of these approaches is quickest:

  • Get into the shower and aim a gentle stream of water on your forehead over your affected eye. Or direct the stream on the bridge of your nose if both eyes are affected. Hold the lids of your affected eye or eyes open.

  • Put your head down and turn it to the side. Then hold the lids of your affected eye open under a gently running faucet. If you have access to a work site's eye-rinse station, use it.

  • Young children may do best if they lie down in the bathtub or lean back over a sink. Pour a gentle stream of water on the forehead over the affected eye or on the bridge of the nose to flush both eyes.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse your hands to be sure no chemical or soap is left on them.

  2. Remove contact lenses. If they don't come out during the flush, then take them out.

  3. Don't rub the eye. This may cause further damage.

  4. Don't put anything except water or contact lens saline rinse in the eye. And don't use eyedrops unless emergency personnel tells you to do so.

After following the above steps, seek emergency care from an eye specialist (optometrist or ophthalmologist) or call 911 or your local emergency number. Take the chemical container or the name of the chemical with you to the emergency provider. If readily available, wear sunglasses to help reduce sensitivity to light.

An important side notes:  If you just finished chopping chili peppers like jalapenos, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  Avoid touching your eyes for several hours. If you touch your eyes after handling peppers and the eyes start to burn, flush your eyes with clean water immediately for up to 20 minutes. Treat it like a chemical splash. And seek medical care if the pain or any loss of vision persists.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. If you know you are going to be exposed to chemicals wear safety glasses. Author: Dr. Irene M. Lin-Dilorinzo, O.D. Dr. Lin-Dilorinzo has over 29 years of experience as an optometrist.

Author: Dr. Irene M. Lin-Dilorinzo, O.D.

In 1987, Dr. Lin completed her undergraduate education at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree with Magna Cum Laude honors.  She majored in Biological Sciences and minored in Zoological Sciences.

In 1992, Dr. Lin graduated from the accredited Southern California College of Optometry with a Doctor of Optometry degree. Her research was in Sports Vision and she did an externship at Fort Ord Army Hospital in Monterey, California as well as a family eye care externship at Baldwin Park Optometric Center in San Gabriel Valley, California.

During the first eight years of her career as a clinical optometrist for a multi-specialty medical group, Dr. Lin examined patients alongside other optometrists, ophthalmologists, and a vast array of physicians, from pediatricians to OB/Gyns to Internists. Her work experience in a team setting continues to influence Dr. Lin to take care of the whole person, not just their eyes. She then became an Independent Doctor in a corporate setting while also working part-time for various private practices in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley areas. Her career journey could end there. However, her dream was to own her own private practice. Monarch Bay Optometry was founded in 2004.

Dr. Lin is married to Robert and loves to rescue dogs from the local animal shelter or rescue. She is currently looking to adopt or rescue a new dog to welcome into her family. Dr. Lin also enjoys collecting sneakers and has built a good collection of over 50 sneakers, primarily of Nike, Jordan, and Yeezy.

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