Chemical Burns and the eye: All you need to know

Chemical burns occur when the eye comes in contact with a chemical substance, and it can have a severe impact on the eye. A chemical substance can have severe effects on the quality of vision and the long-term health of the eyes if proper care is not taken.

The eye does not accommodate foreign substances. If a foreign substance gets into the eye, and unless the substance is taken out, you will experience prolonged discomfort. For instance, if soap gets into the eye, it typically will not cause any permanent or long-term damage to the eyes, but that temporary irritation is guaranteed. Chemical damage to the eyes is something nobody wants, but it happens. Here are a few examples and ways to treat chemical burns to the eye:

pH Scale

We come across and make use of a lot of items that can have severe impact to the eyes on a daily basis. Generally, the differences in the severity of what these substances can do to the eyes lie in the pH scale. PH scale which means “potential of hydrogen” scale is a scale that measures the amount of acid contained in a substance. Pure water, with a pH of 7 is neutral which is in the middle of the scale, and like we all know, is safe to use on the eyes. If you move beyond 7, towards 14 or higher, you’ll have a more basic pH and if you go lower than 7 the substance is acidic. Examples of acidic substances include citrus, vinegar, and battery acid while basic substances include baking soda and salt water.

A lot of people think the more acidic a substance is, the more dangerous it will be to the eyes. But in most cases, this is wrong. This is not to rule out the fact that acidic substances can cause severe irritation and pain to the out, but if an acidic substance gets into the eye, all it needs is a lot of water. Lemon juice is very irritating, but it doesn’t cause any long-term vision problems. After rinsing your eyes thoroughly your eyes will be fine. Acids have limited ability to penetrate tissue, and their high level of viscosity makes it easy to dilute and diffuse them with water.

Basic substances on the other hand are more dangerous than acidic substances. Unlike acids, bases can easily penetrate tissue and cause irreparable damage, especially to the eyes. Severe chemical burns are mostly caused by basic substances. You need know how different bases react with water because most base substances react violently with water. If a base comes in contact with your eyes, adding water can cause more heat, worsen the pain and make the burn more severe. If your eye comes into contact with a basic substance, be sure to contact an optometrist if you don’t know what to do.

Dealing with chemical burns

No chemical substance should enter the eye whether acidic or basic. But in the unfortunate situation that it happens, you should find a way to get it ringed out of your eye immediately. An effective method is placing the eye under a water faucet and allowing lukewarm water flow over the eye for up to 15 minutes. After you have rinsed the eyes, whether you feel any pain or not, you should see an optometrist. If you know the chemical that got into your eyes, tell the optometrist, so they will know how best to assist you.

How to treat Eye Chemical Burn Injuries

For severe burn injuries to the eye, rehabilitation can be done using sclera lenses. At Eyes of Winter Park, we rehabilitate eye burn injuries from chemicals, and we have the best optometrists in the area to deal with any eye problems you may have.

Chemicals with a high base can change the ocular and corneal surfaces which can lead to lingering eye problems. Most patients who have suffered severe eye chemical burn injuries usually live with irregular astigmatism and scarring. Some of the effects include eye discomfort and visual distortion. All of these issues can be corrected with the Sclera lens which is placed on the white part of the eye. By doing so, the eye is cured of any corneal irregularity or visual distortion. For any victims of a chemical burn to the eye, an optometrist will lay out your options for you.

Questions? Contact us.

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