Ocular chemical burns are most often the result of accidents at home or work, although a growing number are from deliberately inflicted injuries. Automobile airbags are also increasingly cited as a source of alkali burns. Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide), lime (calcium hydroxide), and lye (sodium hydroxide) are the most common alkalis. Magnesium hydroxide, found in fireworks, may produce very serious chemical and thermal burns. Sulfuric acid, found in automobile batteries and toilet bowl cleaners, is the most common cause of acid burns. Solvents such as gasoline, alcohol, and acetone, will degrade proteins and lead to epithelial desiccation and keratitis. Detergents and surfactants will emulsify lipids in cell membranes, causing surface damage and an increased risk for bacterial infection. Contact lenses may act as a barrier from caustics. Irrigation is made easy and hands free when using the Morgan Lens. Do not delay irrigation to remove contact lenses. Lenses generally are more easily removed after a period of irrigation and should be discarded.
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