First Aid Recommendations for an Eye Exposure | Illinois Poison Center 

First Aid Recommendations for an Eye Exposure

Nov 24, 2020
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If you or a child gets a substance in the eye(s), follow the steps below and then call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Because the eyes are very sensitive and damage to the eyes can result in vision problems, we recommend calling the IPC for recommendations specific to your situation.


NOTE: If wearing contact lenses, remove them immediately.Holding a wet cloth to the eye or merely splashing water from the sink into the eye will not adequately irrigate the eye.

1. Irrigate the affected eye for 15 minutes with lukewarm/body-temperature tap water.


For Older Children or Adults: Irrigation is best done standing in the shower. Tilt the head so that a steady stream of water runs over the bridge of the nose and into the eye(s). 


For Infants or Younger Children: Have the infant/child lie on their back and then (using a clean cup) pour the water over their nose into their eye(s). For small children, wrap one towel around the child to secure their arms and place another towel under the child’s head to make them more comfortable (and make it easier for you to perform the irrigation). 


2. After irrigation, let the eye rest for about 15-30 minutes. Water washing the natural tears out of the eye often causes the eye to temporarily feel “dry” until the natural tears return. 


NOTE: Do NOT place any eye drops in the eye at this time (such as Visine or artificial tears), as these can mask important symptoms.


If any pain or swelling persists/continues or if there is a foreign body sensation/feeling in the eye (i.e. it feels like there is a grain of sand or an eyelash in the eye), call 1-800-222-1222 so we can re-assess the situation. This may indicate that there is an abrasion or burn on the eye, and evaluation by a physician may be necessary.

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