A systematic review of methods of eye irrigation for adults and children with ocular chemical burns

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2012 Aug;9(3):129-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6787.2011.00220.x. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Aim: To present the best available research evidence on eye irrigation methods for ocular chemical burns to facilitate better-informed clinical decisions.

Methods: Randomized, quasi-randomized controlled trials and observational studies comparing the effectiveness of eye irrigation methods among adults or children as an active form of emergency treatment for ocular chemical burns were reviewed. Electronic databases in English and Chinese were searched from inception to June 2010. Two reviewers made independent decisions on whether to include each publication in the review and critically appraised the study quality independently. Given the clinical and methodological diversity among the studies, the review findings are presented in a narrative form.

Results and discussion: Four studies involving 302 adults and children were identified. The results of this review indicate that patients who underwent irrigation with tap water immediately following alkali burns at the scene of injury had significantly better clinical and ocular outcomes. The evidence also suggests that in hospital settings, more patients preferred balanced saline solution (BSS) plus than other irrigation fluids. Irrigation with diphoterine was found in one study that resulted in better ocular outcomes following grade 1 and 2 ocular burns. With regard to duration of eye irrigation, patients with ocular chemical burns treated with prolonged irrigation reported shorter duration of treatment at hospital and absence from work. The results should be treated with caution, as there were significant differences between the comparison groups in some studies.

Implications and conclusions: As prompt eye irrigation with tap water immediately after alkali burns had better outcomes, it would be important to commence eye irrigation immediately after burns are sustained. In this review, irrigating fluids including normal saline, lactated Ringer's, normal saline with sodium bicarbonate added, BSS Plus, and diphoterine solutions all yielded positive ocular outcomes suggesting for its use in hospital settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns, Chemical / drug therapy*
  • Burns, Chemical / nursing*
  • Child
  • Emergency Nursing / methods
  • Evidence-Based Nursing / methods
  • Eye Burns / drug therapy*
  • Eye Burns / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / therapeutic use*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation


  • Ophthalmic Solutions