Better lock up all your household cleaners if you've got young kids at home. Because according to a new study, children ages 1 and 2 years old are at high risk for chemical eye burns from everyday cleaning products.
The research—published in JAMA Ophthalmology and based on U.S. emergency department visits between 2010 to 2013—refutes the notion that these types of eye injuries are typically caused in the workplace.
Now the researchers are highlighting the need to educate the public about these dangerous, yet avoidable injuries.
"We see chemical eye injuries in little kids all the time," Roberto Warman, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, told Health Day "It's always the same story. They got access to the cleaners in the house."
"Household cleaners are a huge culprit," added R. Sterling Haring, M.D., who led the study. "The rates among 1-year-olds are 1.5 times higher than the highest rate of [eye] injury for working-age adults."
The most common injuries came via alkaline agents—found in oven cleaners, drain cleaners, chlorine bleach, and ammonia products—not acids. That's because, according to Dr. Haring, alkaline chemicals can continue to burn into the eye after contact—and that damage can be blinding.
"If someone gets these chemicals in the eye, they must be immediately flushed out with water, something that can be done by running tap water over the eye for many minutes," Dr. Haring explained.
To prevent this type of injury from even happening in the first place, he suggests keeping household cleaners and other chemicals up high and out of reach of young children, turning all spray bottle nozzles to the "off" position before storing them, and never, ever stashing them under the sink.
"It's a terrible idea," Dr. Haring said. "Even with a lock."