How to treat an eye injury

Laundry pods, household cleaners causing more chemical eye injuries

Eye poisonings are plaguing Kentucky families and, without proper treatment, these injuries can have devastating effects.

Last year the Kentucky Poison Control Center received nearly 2,000 calls about Kentuckians getting chemicals in their eyes. Experts estimate that’s only a fraction of eye splashes, as many people look up treatment information online or go straight to the hospital.

Poison officials say the top culprits of eye injuries are household chemicals and cleaners, pesticides, fertilizers and cosmetics. Among children, liquid laundry pods also are becoming a bigger problem every year.

“Last year we received hundreds of calls about young kids playing with and breaking open laundry pods,” said Maria Chapman, poison prevention coordinator with the Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital. “They’re attracted to the bright colors and think it’s a toy or candy. But swallowing or getting the chemical in their eyes can cause serious problems.”

Chapman points out eye splashes are avoidable. Parents need to keep chemicals and cleaners locked up and out of reach of kids — not under the sink. Adults handling chemicals need to read the label and wear eye protection if recommended.

“While goggles aren’t necessarily fashionable, using them may prevent a lifetime of disability,” Chapman said.

Still, if parents find themselves or their child with a chemical eye injury, immediate flushing with water is key to preventing potential blindness or disability.

“It’s best to call the poison center first,” Chapman said. “Most people think an eye flush lasts a minute or two when in reality each eye needs flushing for 15 minutes. Our trained nurses will walk you through it. And, in many cases, we can treat at home, which will save you the time and money of a visit to the emergency department.”

If you or your child sustains an eye injury, call the Kentucky Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. All calls and consultations are free and confidential.

March 19 to 25 is National Poison Prevention Week. The goal of the week is to raise awareness of the risk of being poisoned by household products, medicines, pesticides, plants, bites and stings, food poisoning and fumes.