NON-emergency Eyewash



Introduction: NON-emergency Eyewash

I was in the office today, intently studying our new project management software, when out of nowhere something flew into my eye, causing sharp pain.  Rubbing only made it worse.  I grabbed a little mirror and to my surprise, it wasn't a knife in my eye.  I couldn't spot the culprit, so I knew I had to wash it out with water.  Though we have a professional eyewash, I wasn't going to use it for something this minor (haha) and embarrass myself in the hallway.

I came up with this idea when I needed to wash a mildly-irritating piece of dirt out of my eye at work but didn't want to get my hair and clothes wet under the sink or use the eyewash strategically located for maximum embarrassment in the hallway.  Again, this was a minor irritant and a completely non-emergency situation.

If you have any means of flushing your eyes that make sense, use them instead of the instructions here!

Ideally, you will have a real eyewash station, such as the one pictured below.  If not, then a good second choice procedure might be tilting your head under a long-necked faucet such that the stream runs into your eyes.  Use approved methods.

Disclaimer: you are responsible for your choices and actions.

Step 1: Find a Large-mouth Bottle

Any clean bottle, whether plastic or glass can be used, so long as the mouth can fit completely over your eye.  I had a couple of Fuse juice bottles (plastic on the left, glass on the right) that both fit perfectly over my eye.

For scale, see the glass bottle's cap alongside a ruler, a US quarter, and a 2-Euro coin.

Step 2: Add Water

Fill the bottle with water.  Distilled or purified, if at all possible.  I used filtered water from our bottled water dispenser.

If you salinate the water with a little iodine-free (kosher?) salt, your eye will be happier.  Tears are essentially composed of water and mineral salts--saline solution.

Step 3: Attach and Rinse

Carefully cover the irritated eye with the mouth of the bottle.  If you start with your eye open, you'll find that with a little work, you can use the bottle to pry open your eyelid as if you were using your fingers.  Now tip the bottle back and wash that irritating spec of dirt away.

You'll look like a drunk who's missed his mouth, so do this where others can't see you.

Step 4: Alternative

When I told some Latin friends over dinner, they said that in Uruguay they do something similar.  They use lukewarm ordinary tea instead of water, and a shot glass instead of a bottle.

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