Children Are Damaging Their Eyes With Hand Sanitizer, Studies Show


John Ruane Contributor
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Hand sanitizer dispensers in public places have been identified by health researchers as a danger to small children who accidentally get the disinfectant into their eyes, which is causing ocular damage.

Researchers recommend washing hands with soap and water over hand sanitizers (Photo by 2p2play/Shutterstock)

A study by the French Poison Control Center published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that there were seven times more cases among children of eye exposure to hazardous chemicals in hand sanitizer between April 1 and August 24, 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier, CNN reports. During that same time period, 16 children were admitted to the hospital because their eyes had hand sanitizer in them as compared with only one boy in 2019. Two severe cases required surgery to transplant tissue into their corneas, the study reported.

“In an emergency, any clean liquid can be used to irrigate the eye following chemical exposure,” said Dr. Kathryn Colby from the Grossman School of Medicine’s department of ophthalmology at New York University in a commentary accompanying the JAMA study, reported CNN. (RELATED: FDA Asks Hand Sanitizer Manufacturers To Make Products ‘Unpalatable’ To Discouraging Ingestion)

Another study in JAMA Ophthalmology reports cases of two children who unintentional exposure of hand sanitizer to their eyes. The study concludes that small children are at risk of severe ocular injury and possibly even blindness due to inadvertent ocular exposure to alcohol-based hand rubs. The researchers make recommendations to address the issue, including promoting hand-washing with soap and water over the use of hand sanitizer.