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 Bellflower

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. 

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

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 of Greater Long Beach as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. In case of an eye emergency, you can call us at (562) 925-6591 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?
When should you see a doctor if you got sanitizer in your eyes?

When should you see a doctor if you got 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 (562) 925-6591. The eye doctors at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach have the skills and equipment to provide you with immediate relief.

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 (562) 925-6591 or visit us at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach.
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 (562) 925-6591 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%.
It is not recommended to disinfect eyeglasses using alcohol-based hand sanitizers because they can damage the lenses as well as the frame, and may cause damage to your eyes. If you wish to disinfect your lenses and frames, you can use branded sprays and wipes available in optical stores and online.
Hand sanitizer in the eyes
Dr. Ikeda cartoon

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 and make sure that the nozzle of the bottle is clear. Patients with eye emergencies visit our clinic from all over California, and we are proud to be a leading provider of urgent eye care for patients from Bellflower, Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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