Burns to the eye

Chemical Burns

All chemical burns should be treated ASAP with irrigation with clean water (or antidote if possible).  These patients will be in excruciating pain and will require anaesthetic drops to allow any chance of cooperation.

NB Alkali burns are always much worse than acid burns.  This is because alkalis can easily and rapidly penetrate the eye structures, whereas acids coagulate proteins on the surface of the eye but rarely penetrate.

The complications that chemical burns can cause include eye ischaemia (yellow sclera), corneal scarring, corneal vascularisation, lid damage and scarring etc.  There is a severe threat to the patients sight.

UV Burns (Arc Eye)

This is usually either seen in welders or sunbed users who don’t use eye protection, although occasionally due to snow glare of the sun.

It also causes an intensely painful eye, but will usually resolve in 24-48 hours.  Patients should be given analgesia and/or chloramphenicol.


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