Don’t be blind; how to treat eye injuries

If someone got a corrosive liquid in their eye, would you know how to help?

If you can’t react within seconds then an accident of this nature could result in permanent loss of sight.

Chemical burns to the eye are a very real and present threat as corrosive substances can be found throughout the home and the workplace. Whether they are accidently splashed, or misused through lack of training, the implications for getting a corrosive product in the eye are extremely serious.

Chemical burns can be caused by common products we come into contact with every day, such as bleach and other cleaning products, white spirit, paint and some personal care items hair removal cream and teeth whitener.

Once a chemical burn to the eye has been sustained, you literally have seconds to administer first aid. The injured party will be experiencing severe pain, and will be inclined to tightly close their eye and cover it with their hand. As counter-intuitive as this may seem, try to remember the last time you got shampoo in your eye. Although the correct response would be to hold the eye open wide and flush it through with water, you probably closed it tightly and held it shut to prevent further injury. A chemical burn is just the same, although undeniably much more painful, and infinitely more dangerous.

As well as being unable, or unwilling, to open the eye, there is likely to be a great deal of swelling and redness around the affected area. A chemical burn should be treated just as you would a regular burn. The key is to flush the affected eye immediately and continuously to stop the burn causing serious damage. Water will provide some relief, but will be unable to completely remove chemical products.

The ideal solution is to have an eye-washing station nearby. For example, health and safety suppliers Cederroth manufacture an eyewash station that is stocked with a couple of bottles of eyewash solution; enough to provide a 3-minute flush of the injured eye. This initial flush will ensure that most of the chemical is immediately washed out of the eye, ensuring that the worst of the damage is avoided, and providing the quickest relief to the patient.

For maximum effect, the injured eye must be held open whilst the eyewash is administered. Simply tip the head back, hold the eye open as wide as possible and pour the eyewash into the eye, holding the bottle tightly around the affected area.

It is recommended that you continue flushing the eye for at least 15-minutes to ensure it is completely clean. To help with this, a further five bottles of eyewash solution should be kept on-site. In total you will get a 3-minutes flush from the primary bottles, and a further 7.5-minutes from the additional bottles. It is essential to ensure you have these extra bottles in reserve to provide the best possible treatment.

Cederroth eye wash products last for 4 and half years, giving it the longest shelf-life of any eyewash solutions presently on the market. They are delivered in large bottles, and always come in pairs so you know your station is always ready for use. The extra bottles are supplied in handy carry-case, hygienically packaged just like the main station.

It is important to remember that after you have administered all of the eyewash solution, it is essential to seek medical assistance immediately as the injured eye will probably need continued treatment. If you can continue flushing the eye whilst waiting to see a doctor, then all the better.

Accidents do happen, but when it comes to your sight, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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