6-23. REMOVE CHEMICALS FROM AN EYE
Chemicals such as acid, alkali, and petroleum can destroy the tissues of the
eye. Chemicals can cause pain, redness, watering or tearing, and erosion of the
surface of the cornea of the eye. Some chemicals may stick to the eye. If chemicals
are in the casualty's eye, the eye must be flushed with potable (drinkable) water as
quickly as possible. If possible, use sterile water or sterile saline (sterile saline is
preferable since it will cause less pain to the patient) to flush the eye. Fluid from an IV
bag (with tubing connected), water from the casualty's canteen, or water from a
shower can be used. Do not try to neutralize the chemical in the eye.
a. Chemicals in Only One Eye.
(1) Turn the casualty's head to one side with the eye to be flushed
(irrigated) lower than the other eye. This keeps chemicals from the eye being flushed
from flowing into the other (unaffected) eye.
Gently hold the casualty's eyelids open.
(3) Gently pour the water into the eye. Pour from the inner canthus (where
the eyelids come together; closest to the nose) to the outer canthus (where the eyelids
come together; closest to the side of the head).
(4) Continue to flush the eye with water for at least 5 minutes. If the
chemical is an alkali (such as lye), flush for at least 20 minutes.
b. Chemicals in Both Eyes.
Have the casualty lie down with his face up.
Turn the casualty's head slightly to one side.
(3) Gently hold the eyelids of the casualty's lower eye open and begin
flushing the eye. Pour from the inner canthus to the outer canthus. Turning the head
and pouring from the inner to outer canthus help to keep contaminated water from
entering the other eye.
Turn the casualty's head slightly to the other side.
(5) Gently hold the eyelids of the casualty's lower eye (eye not just
flushed) open and begin flushing that eye, pouring from the inner edge of the eye to
the outer edge.
(6) Continue to alternate flushing one eye, then the other. Continue to
flush both eyes for at least 5 minutes (20 minutes if the chemical is an alkali).