Skip to Main Content

Chemical burns are treated by copious irrigation of the eyes as soon as possible after exposure, with tap water, saline solution, or buffering solution if available. Neutralization of an acid with an alkali or vice versa may cause further damage. Alkali injuries are more serious and require prolonged irrigation, since alkalies are not precipitated by the proteins of the eye as are acids. It is important to remove any retained particulate matter, such as is typically present in injuries involving cement and building plaster. This may require double eversion of the upper lid. The pupil should be dilated with 1% cyclopentolate, 1 drop twice a day, to relieve discomfort, and prophylactic topical antibiotics should be started. In moderate to severe injuries, intensive topical corticosteroids and topical and systemic vitamin C are also necessary. Complications include mucus deficiency, scarring of the cornea and conjunctiva, symblepharon (adhesions between the tarsal and bulbar conjunctiva), tear duct obstruction, and secondary infection. It is difficult to assess severity of chemical burns without slit-lamp examination.

+
Baradaran-Rafii  A  et al. Current and upcoming therapies for ocular surface chemical injuries. Ocul Surf. 2017 Jan;15(1):48–64.
[PubMed: 27650263]  
+
Cabalag  MS  et al. Early and late complications of ocular burn injuries. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2015 Mar;68(3):356–61.
[PubMed: 25465150]  
+
Cabalag  MS  et al. Risk factors for ocular burn injuries requiring surgery. J Burn Care Res. 2017 Mar/Apr;38(2):71–7.
[PubMed: 27355655]  
+
Haring  RS  et al. Epidemiologic trends of chemical ocular burns in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016 Oct 1;134(10):1119–24.
[PubMed: 27490908]  
+
Scott  WJ  et al. Emergency eye rinse for chemical injuries: new considerations. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Mar;133(3):245.
[PubMed: 25474079]  
+
Sharma  N  et al. Treatment of acute ocular chemical burns. Surv Ophthalmol. 2018 Mar–Apr; 63(2):214–35.
[PubMed: 28935121]  

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.