Eye Flushing

Topic Overview

Flushing your eye may help relieve mild eye symptoms and is 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.

If you are wearing contacts, remove them before flushing your eye. If you are not able to remove a contact, flush your eye with the contact in.

Flush the eye from the inner corner toward the outer corner. 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.

Any of the following may be done 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 (do not use the spray nozzle).
  • Pour water from a pitcher or jug over your eye.

Do not use alcohol to flush the eye.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised October 30, 2013

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