Chemical Eye Burns: Overview, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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 burns cause minor discomfort, burn or exposure of the eye to the chemical has to be taken seriously since it risks in permanent blindness and life-altering situations.

The severity of the burn depends on the substance, total duration of it being in contact with the eye and the way injury is treated whereas damage is mostly limited to anterior of the eye which includes cornea. In severe cases, it can affect conjunctiva as well as 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 serious 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 a variety of chemicals are used. However, they can also happen 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 andirritants .

  • Alkali burns -are the most dangerous having a high pH-level that can penetrate the eye surface and damage even the interior structures such as cornea and the lens. Common alkali substances include ammonium hydroxide, magnesium, lye, lime and potassium hydroxide. Household substances containing these chemicals include fertilisers, 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 into 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 sulphurous 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 serious  sulphuric acid
  • Irritants-  have neutral pH-count that are commonly identified as irritants such as detergents and pepper spray etc.


Significant loss of vision from a burn happens in extreme and severe cases. Intraocular pressure or glaucoma may develop in 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 Dubai. Prescribed eye solutions are preferred in such cases but if none available immediately, regular tap water would do just fine.

  • 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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