Your house needs a good cleaning, so you get all your cleaning products and get ready to give your home a good scrub-down. But you can’t help but notice the warning labels on all your cleaning supplies, telling you not to get them in your eyes. How, exactly, can these products hurt you?
How can cleaning agents hurt my eyes?
Cleaning agents, drain cleaners, and oven cleaners are most often alkaline chemicals, which means they have a high pH level. This means these chemical burns are the most dangerous. In many cases, they can severely damage the front of the eye. In the most serious cases, then can cause vision loss or blindness. Even if they don’t damage your vision, they can still cause cornea scars, cataracts, or glaucoma.
Other cleaning agents, like detergents, have a neutral pH balance and are just irritants. While they can be painful if they get in your eyes, they almost never actually damage them.
How do I keep my eyes safe?
If you can, wear safety glasses while using these cleaning agents. Make sure you don’t rub your eyes while you’re cleaning, Also, keep them safely locked away so children can’t get to them and play with them.
How do I get cleaning agents out of my eye?
If you do get cleaning agents in your eyes, especially an alkali-based cleaning agent, you need to immediately flush them out with tap water and rinse them for at least 10 minutes. Make sure to hold your eyelids open to make sure as much of your eye is cleaned as possible. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them if the water doesn’t flush them out.
If you got an alkaline chemical in your eye, go to the doctor or hospital immediately after rinsing your eye, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Wei Huang, MD, PhD, said. Don’t stop washing out your eyes until you leave for the doctor’s. If you can’t get there on your own, call an ambulance. The longer these chemicals are in your eyes, the likelier you’ll sustain serious damage. Make sure to tell the doctor which cleaning agents you got in your eyes, because different chemicals can damage your eyes in different ways.
If you got a small amount of detergent in your eye, wash out your eye. A doctor’s visit might not be necessary, although you may want to call them and let them know what happened. If your eye gets worse, though, a doctor’s visit is warranted.
If you aren’t sure what chemical you got in your eye, play it safe and go to the doctor or hospital.
A clean house is nice to look at, but don’t be so determined to clean it that you damage the part of your body you want to look at it with.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Huang practices in our Huntersville, Statesville, and University offices. To make an appointment with her or any of CEENTA’s eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.