It is crucial to act as quickly as you can when any foreign object or chemical gets into the eye. In most cases, the first response to these accidents is to flush the eye as quickly as possible to minimize injury.
This makes it essential for someone to learn how to safely flush the eye without causing more damage. Simultaneously, emergency services must be contacted to receive immediate medical attention.
What to Do
Identify the foreign object: Some objects that enter the eye can be very tiny that it becomes unnoticeable. However, some symptoms may manifest such as itchiness, redness, pain, and irritation.
Prepare the necessary materials: A first aid eyewash solution should be readily available to quickly flush out any debris or chemical in the eye. If no eye solution is available, some places like schools and hospitals have dedicated eyewash stations for emergency situations.
Remove contact lenses. Contact lenses could further trap chemicals or debris in the eye, making symptoms worse.
Tilt the head. Find the best position to prevent the materials from further affecting the other eye. The solution or water must flow from the inner eye to the outer corner.
Flush the eye. Use solution or clean water for 10-15 minutes with eyes open for as long as possible to allow the fluid to flow across the eye. Look side to side, up, and down to make sure you flush out all chemicals and debris trapped under the eyelids. The pressure of the fluid must be steady but not too strong that it hurts the eye.
After flushing the eye as a first aid response, it is important to seek medical attention right away. If chemicals were the cause, make sure to bring a sample to your doctor for identification.
Different flushing duration should be followed for different chemicals involved to avoid the eyes from getting burned such as:
15-20 minutes for moderate-to-severe chemicals such as bleach and acetic acid
30 minutes for corrosive chemicals, such as sulfuric acid
60 minutes for potent alkaline materials, such as sodium or calcium hydroxide
If foreign material has entered the eyeball, flushing the eye can be a bad idea. It is best to refrain from flushing the eyes in these cases to avoid pushing the material further into the eye. Never rub the eyes, cover the affected eye with a gauze pad, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Even after the eye has stopped hurting, it is still best to seek medical attention after experiencing any type of eye injury. To avoid eye injuries, anyone who works with chemicals, tools, or bodily fluids must always wear protection.