CHOC Children's
EYE CARE :: Eye Trauma

Chemical Burns of the Eye

What are chemical burns?

Chemical burns occur when a child gets any type of chemical in his/her eye. This is a medical emergency, and the child should receive immediate medical care. Chemical burns can result in a loss of vision and even a loss of the eye itself, if not treated promptly and accurately. Household cleaning agents are a common cause of this type of injury.

What are the symptoms of chemical burns?

The following are the most common symptoms of chemical burns in the eye:

  • severe pain in the eye
  • burning of the eye
  • tearing of that eye

How is a chemical burn diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made after a medical history and physical examination of your child's eye. Local anesthetic drops in the eye may be used in order to examine the child.

Treatment for chemical burns:

Most children with a chemical burn will be treated in the emergency room. An ophthalmologist (physician who specializes in comprehensive eye care) will usually be involved in the care of the child. Treatment includes immediate washing of the eye with saline for about 20 to 30 minutes. Local anesthetic drops may be placed in the eye prior to the washing to help decrease pain. The eye is usually held open with a special instrument to assure the saline gets into the eye. Some children may need to be sedated to perform the procedure.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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