Take few minutes right now and separate your artificial tear/eyedrop bottles from ALL other similar containers. There has been a recent increase in patients reaching for their eyedrops, or what they thought was eyedrops, but instead placing a drop of nail cleaner, ear wax remover, super glue or whiteout into their eye. Some of these solutions can be easily rinsed out, but some cannot and are very dangerous, such as super glue.
If you do inadvertently put the wrong liquid into your eyes, immediately rinse the eye with lots of plain water or saline solution. This is one of those times where the old eye cups would be useful. When you are done rinsing, use a thicker artificial tear solution, such as a gel, to re-lubricate your eyes. If you have persistent pain, redness or blurred vision, by all means call the office. There is a doctor on call 24/7 who can advise you if immediate attention is needed.
If something more toxic, such as drain cleaner, battery acid, ammonia based cleaning products, dry wall or concrete dust, gets into your eyes, a trip to the emergency room or eye clinic nearest to you is recommended. A full 20 minutes of continuous, thorough rinsing and pH testing are needed to completely remove these products. BUT before you go to the emergency room, do an immediate rinse wherever you are. I do not care if you rinse with a garden hose… one patient used a can of 7-Up (that is all she had to help her son after the car battery exploded in his face). The faster your eyes are washed out and the toxic solution diluted the better. Even a 5 minute ride to the hospital can be more than enough time for potentially blinding damage to occur if these solutions are present full strength. It is common to be concerned if the word acid is in a description of the fluid, but solutions with the opposite pH called bases, such as ammonia, can cause much more rapid and severe damage to your eyes.
By Richard Hector, MD