Hand sanitizer in the eyes

Hand sanitizer gets in the eyes when one accidentally sprays the liquid into their eyes or rubs their eyes before the sanitizer fully evaporates. A recent study from France found that children may suffer more eye injuries due to the frequent use of hand sanitizer during the pandemic. The Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology found that pediatric eye exposure to hand sanitizer was seven times higher in 2020 than it was in 2019.

Hand sanitizer in the eyes in Manhattan

Can hand sanitizer harm your eyes?

An excessive amount of hand sanitizer that contains a high concentration of alcohol can cause corneal abrasions or keratitis if left in the eye for a prolonged period of time.There is usually a limited amount of liquid hand sanitizer that can squirt into the eye. The good news is that complications are rare and the injury is not as severe as other chemical injuries. The likelihood of complications from getting hand sanitizer in your eyes decreases significantly when you take immediate steps to flush your eyes. 

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What to do if hand sanitizer gets in your eyes?

If you get hand sanitizer in your eye, it’s important to avoid rubbing it and to flush your eye as soon as possible. You should flush your eyes for at least 20 minutes with clean, room temperature tap water after a chemical splash.

You can use your shower or a sink to flush your eye. You can also use an emergency eyewash station if you have access to one. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure the water isn't too hot to avoid further damage to your eyes.

When using a sink, lean over the basin and adjust the tap to a gentle flow. Allow the water to flow into your eye while tilting your head to the side.

Any burning or stinging sensations in your eyes, or any changes in vision or loss of vision is considered an eye emergency. If after flushing your eyes you still have strong burning or vision loss, you should visit us at Amplify EyeCare Manhattan as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. In case of an eye emergency, you can call us at (212) 752-6930 to schedule an appointment. 

What are the possible symptoms you may experience if you get hand sanitizer in your eyes?

A hand sanitizer usually contains alcohol to kill bacteria and germs that might make you sick. 

Chemical burns can be caused by alcohol on the cornea, which is the outermost layer of your eyes. Your cornea is a transparent layer that protects your eye and directs light toward your retina.

In the event that you get hand sanitizer in your eye, these symptoms may occur:

  • Redness
  • Stinging or burning pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Tearing
  • Trouble keeping your eye open
  • Swelling
What are the possible symptoms you may experience if you get hand sanitizer in your eyes?
What are the possible symptoms you may experience if you get hand sanitizer in your eyes?

What are the possible symptoms you may experience if you get hand sanitizer in your eyes?

After flushing your eye with water, the pain and irritation should go away within a couple of hours. However, if you’re experiencing persistent sharp pain, got a large amount of hand sanitizer in your eye, or your symptoms don’t get better within a couple of hours, it’s a good idea to see an eye care professional or get emergency medical attention.

A doctor may irrigate your eyes again even if you’ve already done it. They can also perform a pH strip test to ensure that all alcohol has been removed, as well as an eye exam to monitor the damage.

To schedule an emergency eye exam, call us at (212) 752-6930. The eye doctors at Amplify EyeCare Manhattan have the skills and equipment to provide you with immediate relief.

What are the possible symptoms you may experience if you get hand sanitizer in your eyes?

How to avoid hand sanitizer eye injuries

Below are some simple precautions you can take to protect your eyes:

  • Place hand sanitizer dispensers out of reach of children.
  • If you intend to touch your face, be sure to rub the liquid sanitizer well into your hands.
  • You can minimize the force of sanitizer by using foam sanitizer.
  • Make sure that the nozzle of the bottle is clear.

Common Questions

In the majority of cases, hand sanitizer-induced eye injuries do not cause permanent damage if they are treated promptly and appropriately. Even so, getting hand sanitizer in your eye is still dangerous. Hand sanitizer can cause serious eye injuries in children more often than in adults. The reason is that automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in public areas are usually placed at children's eye level. In addition, some of these hand sanitizer bottles are complex for children to use, leading to accidents such as getting some product in the eyes. In case of an eye emergency, you can call us at [mbv name="token-practice-phone"] or visit us at [mbv name="practice-name"].
Hand sanitizer which sometimes is also called hand antiseptic, handrub, or hand rub usually contains alcohol as the main sanitizing agent. However there are some variations, and certain forms of hand sanitizer may pose a greater risk to your eyes. Alcohol based hand sanitizers contain the active ingredient called ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or 2-propanol). Both of these alcohols require flushing of the eyes as explained above. Surface disinfectants or sprays are not hand sanitizer and are not for use on human skin. In the event that a surface disinfectant gets in your eye please call our office right away at [mbv name="token-practice-phone"] to get more specific guidance Since the type of chemical used in these products differ, it is important to call our office and ask what to do based on the main ingredients. Another ingredient that is used in hand sanitizers and wipes is benzalkonium chloride antiseptic. Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs) are chemicals with widespread uses since they have broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In lower doses this chemical is used as a preservative in eye drops. However in higher doses such as those used for antiseptic or disinfectant sprays or wipes, it has been shown to cause irritation and inflammation. Considerable cell toxicity was observed in human ocular cells exposed to BAC concentrations as low as 0.0001%.
Hand sanitizer in the eyes
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Testimonials


  • At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


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  • Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


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  • Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


    Mary K.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Peter G.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Kinkie F.

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