Chemical Eye Burns

What are Chemical Eye Burns?

Chemical eye burns occur when the eye comes into contact with a solid, liquid, or vaporous chemical. The severity of the burn depends on the chemical, as well as the amount that comes into contact with the eye. Fortunately, the vast majority of burns are treatable and cause only temporary discomfort^1^.

Chemical eye burns fall into three categories based upon acidic or alkaline level, measured in pH. The pH scale ranges from 0-14 and indicates how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance is. A pH of 7 is neutral; the pH of healthy tears is 7.5. A pH of less than 7 is acidic while a pH greater than 7 is basic^1^.

Types of eye burns
The three categories of chemical eye burns are^2^:
  • Alkali burns - these burns involve high pH chemicals, and thus are the most dangerous. They are powerful enough to penetrate the eye, and cause damage to its vital inner components. In the worst cases, alkali burns can lead to conditions like cataracts and glaucoma and may cause vision loss or blindness.
  • Acid burns - lower pH burns that are less serious than alkali burns, but still dangerous. These burns are unable to penetrate the eye, but still may cause significant damage to the cornea, with the potential to cause vision loss.
  • Irritations - these burns have a neutral pH.


Chemical burns can occur at any time in various circumstances. Most commonly, they occur in industrial workplaces where chemicals are present, and at home with common household cleaning products^2^.



1. Dr. Ghosheh Adavanced Eye Medical. Preventing and treating chemical eye burns. Available at: [] 

2. Boots WebMD. Chemical Eye burns – Symptoms .Available at: []  3. Boots WebMD. Chemical Eye Burns – Treatments. Available at: [] 


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