It has happened to all of us, from time to time you will get shampoo or soap in your eye. It burns and stings for a brief time until you get all of it flushed out, either your body does it with tears or you rinse in the sink or shower. What do you do if it is something harsher? Chemical burns represent 7 -10% of all injuries to the eye.
For all chemical injuries to the eye, the first thing you must do is irrigate the eye with cold water if a sterile eye solution is unavailable.
If an eyewash station is not available, get into the shower fully clothed, and save valuable time. When in the shower, aim a gentle stream of water on your forehead over your affected eye. If both eyes aim the stream to the bridge of your nose so the water flows to both eyes.
If no other option is available, use bottled drinking water. Keep flushing as much as you can until help arrives.
The sooner you start flushing your eyes, the better. The severity of the injury depends on the substance that came in contact with the eye and how long the substance had contact with the eye. The longer the chemical remains in your eyes, the more damage can be done.
Even if it is uncomfortable, hold your eyelids open to let the water inside. DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE(S)!
Rinse for at least 15 minutes or until emergency care arrives. A doctor will examine the eye for damage by the chemical and any foreign bodies that may also be involved with the chemical and remove it. Then instill drops in the eye(s) to relax the muscles. Antibiotics will be given for infection. If the injury is severe the doctor will prescribe steroids and something for the pain.
Every chemical exposure to the eye should be taken seriously. Avoid these incidents when possible. Take initiative when handling chemicals. Be aware of what chemical is in use. All chemicals come with a data sheet. The data sheet provides first-aid instructions, chemical ID, safe usage instructions, and other pertinent information. Make yourself aware of some of this information before use. You should always wear personal protective gear to prevent any of these substances from getting on the skin, clothes, or eyes.