A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology revealed that children aged between 1 to 2 years were at highest risk of chemical burns to their eyes. As opposed to the expected results, the research provided insight into how common chemicals around the house are ignored as potential dangers. As a parent, here are some tidbits you need to update yourself with, to protect your children from permanent eye injury.

Why you should keep items out of reach?

Chemical injury to the eye happen more frequently than you think. While most parents are aware of obvious dangers, common household items get overlooked – from hand sanitizers and deodorants, to household cleaners and bleaches. These liquids and aerosols can easily enter the eyes of curious children.

The study conducted across 900 US-based Emergency Departments, throws light on the frequency and quality of injuries. While toddlers ranked the highest overall, 24-year old adults had the largest rates among adults. Even then, a 2-year-old was 1.5 times more likely to be at risk than a 24-year-old adult.

When the nature of injury is known, alkaline injuries prove more frequent. This calls for more caution, as alkali injury to the eye are more serious and more at risk of leading to permanent blindness, than acid injuries.

Even though adults have proper instructions, children let their curiosity get the better of them. Parents need to be extra vigilant in preventing these burns and in getting them immediate first aid.

What should you do in case of chemical burns?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology lists a few first aid measures you can follow in these cases:

  • DO NOT touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.
  • DO NOT try to remove any object stuck in the eye. For small debris, lift the eye lid and ask the child to blink rapidly to see if tears will flush out the particle. If not, close the eye and seek treatment.
  • DO NOT apply ointment or medication to the eye.
  • Provide cover for any cut or puncture wound

In this situation, take your child to the Emergency Department, where the staff may give them a thorough wash with water or saline. The Ophthalmologist may also need to remove any particulate matter by hand, as they can cause corneal injury and scarring.

How can you prevent these accidents?

Precautions can come a long way in averting chemical burns, including:

  • Be aware of the chemical composition of seemingly harmless products, including beauty, cleanliness and related products – keep them out of reach of children, and preferably in locked spaces.
  • For adults, use clear labels on different products; take care to direct spray can nozzles away from you. Wear suitable protective eye wear if any chemical-related work is to be done.

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