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Eye Flushing

Overview

If you are wearing contacts, remove them before you flush your eye. If you can't remove a contact, flush your eye with the contact in place.

Flush the eye from the inner corner toward the outer corner. Use large amounts of water. This prevents a substance in the eye from washing into the other eye. Flushing the eye will be easier if you have someone who can help you.

You can use any of these methods to flush the eye. You must hold the eyelids open while you:

  • Stand under a shower with open eyes.
  • Put your face under a running faucet.
  • Use a kitchen sink sprayer at low pressure.
  • Immerse your face in a sink or pan filled with water.
  • Run water from a garden hose over your eye. (Don't use the spray nozzle.)
  • Pour water from a pitcher or jug over your eye.

Do not use alcohol to flush the eye.

Flushing your eye may help relieve mild eye symptoms. It's the most important first aid measure for a chemical substance in the eye. The sooner you get a chemical out of the eye, the less damage it may do.

Many workplaces have eye wash stations for burns to the eye. Know where they are and how to use them.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine