You’re probably using more hand sanitizer than ever before. That’s because it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 when soap and water are not available. Unfortunately, our ophthalmologists know all too well that the alcohol found in hand sanitizer can cause painful symptoms and damage if it gets in your eyes.
Alcohol can inflict chemical burns on the outer layer of your eye, known as the cornea. When hand sanitizer comes into contact with your eyes, you may experience:
- Burning, stinging, or pain
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty keeping your eye open
Your risk of complications is low if you get a little bit of product in your eye. However, things are different when it comes to a large amount of sanitizer with a high alcohol percentage. You might damage the surface of your eye. It’s also possible to develop a sore or an abrasion.
What to Do if Hand Sanitizer Gets in Your Eyes
You should flush your eye as soon as possible after any exposure to hand sanitizer. That means washing it thoroughly with clean water or sterile saline. If sanitizer gets into your child’s eye, it can be helpful to have them lean over a sink while you pour water on and around their forehead.
In many cases, pain and irritation will fade shortly after flushing. If symptoms persist, contact our ophthalmologists or get emergency medical attention right away. A doctor can irrigate your eyes, make sure that the alcohol is gone, and perform an eye examination to determine the degree of damage.
Simple Ways to Avoid Hand Sanitizer Injuries
You can keep your family’s eyes safe by following these tips:
- Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer
- Check that the sanitizer is dry before touching your face
- Switch to foam sanitizer that dispenses with less force
- Keep the nozzle of your sanitizer bottle clear and free from clogs
Are You Experiencing an Eye Emergency in Ocean County?
The board-certified ophthalmologists at Susskind & Almallah Eye Associates are trained to handle eye emergencies involving hand sanitizer. Call 732-349-5622 during business hours to request a same-day appointment. We have offices in Toms River, Brick, Barnegat, and Marlboro, New Jersey.