Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
What should I do after getting raw chicken juice in my eye?

Answer:
No matter what substance gets splashed in your eye, the first thing to do is to thoroughly flush your eye(s) with water. Every second that passes potentially leads to significant damage depending on the nature of the substance.

There are two primary factors that determine how much damage is caused if a foreign liquid is splashed in your eye. First is the pH, or whether the liquid is acidic, neutral, or basic. An acidic liquid, for example, is lemon juice; while bleach, on the other hand, is a basic liquid. Milk is pH neutral (neither acidic nor basic). Chicken juice is moderately acidic. Acids splashed in the eye can be toxic to the ocular surface but typically do not penetrate the eye and cause damage to the deeper layers. Our tear film is slightly basic, which helps neutralize acidic substances.

Bases (basic liquids), however, can cause considerable internal damage and can lead to significant scarring and blindness. Do NOT try to neutralize the substance on your own by washing out an acid with a base, and vice versa. There is a tremendous amount of inflammation and damage that is caused by a neutralization reaction. If it’s a benign pH neutral substance, usually irrigation is enough to prevent any immediate damage. The second factor determining potential ocular damage is the potential infection risk of organisms contained in the splashed liquid. Listeria is common in raw chicken juice and is one of the few bacteria that can bypass through one of the primary eye defenses (an intact cornea) and cause infections.

Remember, the basic rule of thumb is to irrigate your eye with water no matter what the substance is. If you note any symptoms afterwards, such as blurred vision, redness, discharge, or pain, then you should see your Eye MD immediately or head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

Answered by: Omar R. Chaudhary, MD Dr. Omar R. Chaudhary

Categories: Eye Injuries, General Eye Health

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Answered: Jun 03, 2014

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