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Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3334
Experience:  Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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A mixture of superheated water, oil and water vapor my eye,

Customer Question

A mixture of superheated water, oil and water vapor burnt my eye, I have second degree burns on my cornea, Dr. prescribed antibiotic drops and lubricating ointment. I have almost no vision in the eye that was burnt and it is extremely painful. should I see another Dr. ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  DrDon replied 1 year ago.

Ellie: this is Dr.DonMD, an emergency physician. Sorry you enountered this injury, as they are quite painful at first. I am asuming from your description that you were seen either at an ER or an urgent care center, perhaps last evening. Corneal burns of the sort you describe are not uncommon.

  • I am also assuming the provider you saw irrigated (washed) your eye well, and might have done so after giving you anesthetic drops to make the cornea a bit numb, and provide some comfort.
  • Those drops do not last very long, and are not given to patients, as they slow healing.
  • From your description, it is hard to say what the impact of the oil actually was, as many oils are inert, but some are slightly acidic or alkaline, which increases the extent of the burn.
  • The prescribing of the antibiotic drops and ointment is correct. While these injuries are very painful (as you well know), they fortunately heal rather rapidly and completely as long as there are no complications.
  • Often two to three days from the time of injury is required until nearly back to normal. In most cases, patients feel much better after 1 to 1.5 days.
  • What complications are important to watch for, and how does one do so?
    • Corneal ulcer: ulceration of the cornea is a severe complication, and is one of the reasons that good follow-up is needed, particular if pain is not resolving over the first few days.
    • Infection: the damaged tissue is more prone to infection, and this is the reason antibiotic drops are provided.
    • A combination of the above: a corneal ulcer that has become infected is an emegency, requiring immediate ophthalmologic examination.
  • Here is what you should do:
    • If you have been given follow-up instructions (perhaps with an ophthalmoligist or your primary doctor) be sure to be seen when instructed.
    • Get seen earlier if any of the following occur
      • The appearance of a dot or circular area on your affected cornea (could indicate an ulcer). If so, it would be very painful.
      • Failure of the pain to mostly resolve within 48 hours.
      • Appearance of purlent (pus-like) matter or exudate (discharge) from the affected eye

Hope this helps you Ellie, and trust that, like most who have an injury of this sort, you will soon be better. In the meantime, keep a lookout for the above, and let me know if I can help again.