Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Woman with sponge in her hand.

Woman with sponge in her hand.
beginning of content

Objects or chemicals in the eye after care

Here is first aid advice for when you have an object or chemical in the eye.

An object or dirt in your eye

  • Try to flush it out gently with water or a sterile saline solution (available from your local pharmacy). You can do this by gently pouring water or saline over the eyeball from a glass or small jug of water held against the eye. Flushing should remove any loose materials from your eye. You may be able to get an eye bath from your local pharmacy.
  • Avoid touching your eyes or around your eyes if you have dirty hands and fingers as you may spread an infection. Wash your hands in warm soapy water and dry them before and after touching your eye area.
  • If the object remains in your eye after flushing with water or saline, or if it’s stuck in your eye, go to your nearest emergency department as soon as possible. Do not drive yourself. Ask a friend or relative to take you.

Chemicals in your eye

Getting chemicals in your eye can be quite serious, so it’s important that you take the right steps to prevent any lasting damage:

  • Try to find the container or packet that the chemical came in. It will have instructions on the back that tell you what to do if you get the product in your eye. If you cannot find the instructions, follow those below.
  • Flush your eye for 10–20 minutes with water or a sterile saline solution (available from your local pharmacy). You can do this by gently pouring water or saline over the eyeball from a glass or small jug of water held against the eye. Refill the glass or jug as needed to continue flushing for 10–20 minutes.
  • Cover your eye with a clean pad or a piece of sterile gauze and go to your nearest emergency department as soon as possible. Do not drive yourself. Ask a friend or relative to take you.

General information

  • Try not to rub or scratch your eye, even if it’s painful or itchy, to avoid the risk of irritating it or making it worse.
  • Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands and fingers, which may cause an infection. Wash your hands in warm soapy water and dry them before and after touching your eye.
  • If you are in pain, get advice on the pain relief medicines you can take.
  • If your eye is bruised, hold an ice pack against it to reduce swelling. A frozen bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel makes a good ice pack. The bag of peas can be repeatedly re-frozen but you must not then eat the re-frozen peas.
  • If you have an injury to your eye you should avoid wearing contact lenses until the injury has healed. Try to wear your glasses instead.

Protect your eyes

It is important to protect your eyes by wearing a face visor or a pair of wrap-around goggles if you work in an environment where there’s a risk of getting objects such as wood chips, dust, or metal fragments, or chemicals in your eyes. It is a good idea to speak to your employer about other protective clothing to minimise the risk of harm to other parts of the body. The use of eye protection is also important at home when you perform certain activities, such as using garden equipment or cleaning or working with chemicals.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your eye injury, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 6 results

Retinal detachment - detached retina

Retinal detachment (detached retina) is a medical emergency when the retina becomes separated from the inside of the eye.  Warning signs include a sudden increase in floaters or flashes. Seek immediate medical attention. This could save your sight.

Read more on myDr website

Learn more about eye care

Regular eye check-ups are recommended for people without eye diseases or specific risk factors

Read more on Vision Australia website

Eye Health | Common Eye Conditions | Glossary of Eye Conditions

A glossary of eye conditions including information on cataract, diabetic retinopathy, as well as definitions of myopia, hyperopia, and glaucoma. Read more.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

The human eye anatomy & functions - Fred Hollows

The Fred Hollows Foundation's programs treat various eye diseases which can lead to blindness. Find out more about these devastating eye conditions.

Read more on Fred Hollows Foundation website

Jetrea Concentrated solution for injection - myDr.com.au

Jetrea Concentrated solution for injection - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Isopto Carpine Eye drops - myDr.com.au

Isopto Carpine Eye drops - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback