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Glue Injuries

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about EYE CARE when glue gets into the eye.

Glue (Cyanoacrylate Glue) is commonly found in most households. Instances of glue, splashing into the eye is not as uncommon as most people think. When it does occur, it results in significant short-term ocular morbidity.

WHY DOES THIS OCCUR?

Glue eye injuries occur most often when there is careless handling of the glue. Secondly, they occur in people with poor vision who may mistake the glue bottle for an eye drop bottle and thirdly in children who play with glue bottles. Most of these injuries are preventable if proper precautions are taken.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EYE

Fortunately, glue accidentally getting splashed into the eye usually causes short-term eye problems most of the time.

Injuries to the eyes include:

  • eyelashes and eyelids getting glued together,
  • eyelid abrasions especially when glue is forcefully removed,
  • inflammation of conjunctiva (chemical conjunctivitis),
  • corneal inflammation (punctate keratitis),
  • corneal abrasions,
  • blurring vision, and temporary complete loss of vision for mechanical reasons (unable to open eyelids).

Regardless of what the glue injury is, there is much distress when it happens especially when it occurs to a child.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

While this is easier said than done, it is important not to panic as this may cause you to treat yourself rashly and cause further eye injury. Glue removal must always be done with care to avoid unnecessary eye problems.

Firstly, run copious amounts of warm water for 20 minutes into the eye to dislodge any glue that has not already bonded. Keep washing out several times a day until you can get to a doctor. Never force glue off by scraping it. This only abrades the eye. If you are still not able to get medical help, continue washing the eye out several times a day and the glue will eventually loosen up and separate over 2-3 days.

Acetone (present in nail varnish) may be used to remove glue stuck onto the eyelid SKIN ONLY. Make sure the acetone does NOT trickle into the eye. If unsure, do NOT even attempt to use it. Always seek professional help if you are unable to get things sorted out.

In summary, to prevent any form of eye injury by chemicals, ALWAYS WEAR PROTECTIVE GOGGLES even for seemingly innocent household chores that involve the handling of any form of chemicals. Prevention is always better than cure. Should any chemical accidentally get into your eyes, immediately flush them continuously for at least 20 minutes with running water and seek immediate medical attention without delay! Keep all harmful chemicals away from a child’s reach.

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Dr S.S. Gill

Dr S.S. Gill is a Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at Hospital Fatimah, Ipoh. For more information on Eye Health, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05 545 5582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

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