You wear safety goggles at work because you know the dangers of the chemicals you work with and the consequences of getting those substances in your eyes. However, in one split second, the chemicals were in your face, and your eyes began to burn. Thankfully, your job site has an eye wash station where co-workers helped you rinse your eyes until help arrived.
In the hospital, you probably faced more washing and cleansing of your eyes and endless tests. If you couldn’t see what was happening, you may have felt frustrated by the silence, the confusion and the unanswered questions. The severity of the damage to your eyes depends on the chemicals involved and the speed at which you received treatment. Nevertheless, you may have your concerns, and those concerns are justifiable.
Acid and alkali burns
If the chemicals that splashed into your eyes were alkali or acid, you may be facing some difficult times ahead. Alkali substances penetrate the eye surface and can burn deeply into the cornea and lens. If you work with fertilizers, cement, or certain cleaners, you are likely exposed to alkali chemicals, for example:
Acids, such as those in car batteries, are less penetrating, so they may only damage the cornea. However, this by itself can place you at risk for blindness. Although an acid, hydrochloric acid penetrates like an alkali and can cause swift and serious damage.
Severe chemical burns may cause an immediate loss of vision or produce a pressure in the eyes that develops over several days. If your injury was a grade one or two burn, you can expect a full recovery of your vision. A grade three burn means your vision will be impaired. If the chemicals caused a grade four injury, you will probably lose much of your ability to see.
Your recovery from a grade three or four chemical burn may include a considerably long stay at a Texas hospital, numerous tests and countless medications to reduce your pain, promote healing and prevent infection. You may need extensive therapy and possibly several surgical procedures. Among these may include a corneal transplant, replacement of damaged Limbal cells, cataract removal and pressure-reducing glaucoma surgery. You may also need surgery to repair your eyelids if the chemicals damaged them.
Fortunately, workers’ compensation may be available. If your injuries were the fault of a third-party, such as an equipment supplier, or they were the result of a safety violation by your employer, you may be eligible for additional compensation. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your legal options.