These are quite common but usually not severe enough to warrant hospital attention. In industrial premises there is now nearly always a first-aid post with facilities to wash out the eyes. Plain water or a salt solution is the best fluid to use and valuable time may be lost if washing is delayed in order to search for a specific antidote. More severe burns can result from the catalysts used in the manufacture of plastics or from alkalis, such as caustic soda. Alkalis penetrate the eye rapidly as they saponify lipids within cell membranes, aiding passage, and can quickly reach the posterior segment. Acid burns as from exploding car batteries are quite commonly seen in large casualty departments but are usually less severe as acids tend to coagulate corneal proteins, thereby slowing penetration.
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