• How to Safely Flush Your Eye

How to Safely Flush Your Eye

Have you noticed a sign by the first aid kit at work or in the break room about how to flush your eye? If you work in an envi­ron­ment where chem­i­cals are used, there may also be an eye flush­ing sta­tion.

Regard­less of where you work, know­ing how to flush your eye is an impor­tant part of first aid. You don’t need to have an actu­al eye flush kit at home (although it’s not a bad idea if you have young chil­dren), but know­ing the steps is impor­tant because at some point, every­one gets some­thing in their eye that shouldn’t be there!

Ideally, An Eye Flush Begins With Removing Contact Lenses

If you or some­one near you gets splashed by a chem­i­cal or gets dirt or dust blown into his or her eye that tears won’t wash out, the first thing to do is remove con­tact lens­es if pos­si­ble. Con­tact lens­es can trap debris, par­tic­u­lar­ly if the per­son has already rubbed the affect­ed eye.

If you can, wash your hands and remove your own lens. If you’re with a per­son who can’t remove his/hers lens, you can try to do it for him. First, wash your hands and slip on med­ical exam gloves, if they’re avail­able at your work­site. Gen­tly touch the tip of the low­er part of the lens, slide it down the eye, and light­ly pinch (we can’t overem­pha­size this part!) the lens as it slides off the eye.

But some­times, it’s just not pos­si­ble to remove a lens. Don’t spend more than a minute or two try­ing. The eye may be squeezed shut, the affect­ed per­son may be too agi­tat­ed to remain still, or there’s just too much dry­ness to move the lens.

Positioning and Applying an Eye Flush

Before flush­ing the eye, tilt the head down so that the affect­ed eye is low­est. This keeps debris, par­tic­u­lar­ly liq­uids, from fur­ther spread­ing into the eye.

Use gen­tle but steady pres­sure to get the eye flush solu­tion or clean, luke­warm water across the eye.

  • Keep the eye open as much as pos­si­ble
  • Look up, down, and side to side as the flush con­tin­ues
  • Flush for at least ten min­utes for non­tox­ic debris.

That last part sounds exces­sive, but it’s real­ly nec­es­sary to get as much of the debris out as pos­si­ble. It’s a good idea to keep a clean tow­el handy, or at least cov­er the per­son with a clean, unused trash bag because there will be a lot of water!

If there has been a chem­i­cal splash, get some­one con­tact emer­gency ser­vices while you’re prepar­ing for an eye flush. Start it right away — don’t wait for them. A chem­i­cal splash includes house­hold clean­ers. In this sit­u­a­tion, con­tin­ue flush­ing the eye until para­medics arrive. Even if the per­son feels OK after 15 min­utes of flush­ing, don’t can­cel the call — a chem­i­cal eye splash needs med­ical atten­tion right away.

When Not to Flush an Eye

While it’s very impor­tant to know how to flush your eye, it’s also key to rec­og­nize when an eye flush will make a sit­u­a­tion worse.

Don’t start an eye flush when the object has pen­e­trat­ed the eye­ball or the eye has been cut. This obvi­ous­ly means imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion, but, in the mean­time, cov­er the affect­ed eye with gauze or even a cup — it needs to be pro­tect­ed from fur­ther intru­sion and con­t­a­m­i­na­tion includ­ing rub­bing painful, swollen eyes.

Also, don’t flush an eye that’s been sub­ject to an impact. The pres­sure can cause more dam­age. Instead, gen­tly apply a soft, cold com­press to reduce swelling and pain. Get med­ical atten­tion: eyes are del­i­cate and even a seem­ing­ly minor injury can be seri­ous.

Vis­it our blog for more infor­ma­tion about eye health and safe­ty.

February 15th, 2019|Comments Off on How to Safely Flush Your Eye

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.


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