Chemical Eye Burns: Overview, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Chemical eye burns
Chemical eye burns


Exposure of the eye or eyelid to the chemical may result in chemical eye burn, which contributes to approximately 10% of eye injuries. And though most of the wounds cause minor discomfort, burn or exposure of the eye to the chemical has to be taken seriously since it risks permanent blindness and life-altering situations.

The severity of the burn depends on the substance, the total duration of it being in contact with the eye, and how the injury is treated. In contrast, the damage is mostly limited to the interior of the eye, which includes cornea. In severe cases, it can affect conjunctiva and the interior structure of the eye lens, causing glaucoma and cataracts.

Victim(s) of the chemical eye burn might require a corneal transplant in Dubai if the condition is severe and pose a risk of blindness or any other life-threatening situation.


Most of the reported cases of chemical eye injuries happen at work, industrial places where various chemicals are used. However, they can also occur at home from concentrated cleaning products that can be as dangerous as industrial chemicals and require immediate medical treatment. These chemical eye burns are divided into three categories, namely alkali, acid, and irritants.

·        Alkali burns are the most dangerous having a high pH-level that can penetrate the eye surface and damage even the cornea and the lens’s interior structures. Common alkali substances include ammonium hydroxide, magnesium, lye, lime, and potassium hydroxide. Household substances containing these chemicals include fertilizers, ammonia-based cleaners, cement, and plaster (lime), oven and drain cleaners (lye).

·        Acid burns from low-pH chemicals are less severe since they don’t penetrate the eye as alkali except for hydrofluoric acid burn. And while acids usually damage anterior of the eye, they do injure the cornea quite seriously, which risk in blindness. Common acidic eye burns are caused by sulphuric and sulfurous acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric and acetic acid, chromic, and hydrofluoric acid. Household substances containing these chemicals include vinegar, nail polish remover, and glass polish. An automobile battery, if exploded causes a severe sulphuric acid

·        Irritants have neutral pH-count that are commonly identified as irritants such as detergents and pepper spray etc.

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Significant loss of vision from a burn happens in extreme and severe cases. Intraocular pressure or glaucoma may develop in the following hours or even days post-burning. Preliminary signs and symptoms of chemical-based eye burn include:

  • · Stinging pain in the eye
  • · Redness and irritation
  • · Excess tearing and inability to keep the eye open
  • · Foreign-body sensation
  • · Eyelid inflammation and
  • · Blurred vision


Immediately wash and medical attention is required for almost all chemical eye burns as delay may result in extensive damage, which requires a corneal transplant in Abu Dhabi. Prescribed eye solutions are preferred in such cases, but regular tap water would do just fine if none available immediately.

· Wash the eye thoroughly for approximately 10-minutes as the longer the chemical remains in the eye, the more danger it poses.

· Dilute the substance and wash away any particles that might’ve remained in the eye.

· In a corporate setting, a shower station, emergency eyewash, and availability of sterile isotonic saline solution is extremely important for acidic eye burns.

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