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What to do if you get glue in your eye

woman with glue in eye

Adhesive compounds, like nail glue, superglue, eyelash glue and everything in between, can pose a threat to your eyes — whether that threat is a simple irritation or something more severe.

Vapors and harsh scents given off by these products can cause the eyes to water and feel irritated, while getting glue in the eye itself can be dangerous for your vision. 

Although many glue-in-eye scenarios only temporarily impact vision, some situations will require that you seek medical attention to ensure you receive the proper care.

Risks associated with glue in eyes

Why is it important to seek medical help if you get glue in your eyes? There are several negative outcomes that can occur after getting glue in your eyes, including the following:

  • Eye irritation

  • Inflammation of the conjunctiva

  • Corneal abrasion

  • Eyelashes or eyelids sticking together

  • Infection following an allergic reaction, bacterial or chemical exposure

How do I remove glue from my eye?

Getting adhesive products in your eye can be a frightening and frustrating experience, but it is important to remain as calm as possible and refrain from taking extreme measures to remove the glue.

Eyes should be rinsed immediately after coming into contact with adhesives, regardless of how 

mild or strong the formula. There are several methods for properly rinsing the eyes, each of which should be done for at least five minutes (the stronger the glue, the longer you’ll need to rinse — up to 15 minutes) and with lukewarm water.

If you get glue in your eye, immediately rinse your eye in one of the following ways:

  • Use a clean pitcher or teapot to pour a stream of water over the eye, starting from the inner corner and flowing toward the ear.

  • Rinse and irrigate eyes under flowing water from a shower head.

  • Fill a sink or large bowl with enough water to submerge the upper part of your face. Open and close eyes while they are under water.

Remember to be gentle around your eyes during this process. Seek medical help if irritation continues or if you are unable to completely remove the product from your eyes. 

Be sure to monitor the condition of your eyes for a few days after the incident. If any complications arise, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.

What happens if you get superglue in your eyes?

The steps listed above can be followed to remove superglue as well, though seeking medical attention is recommended, especially for harsher chemicals and stronger adhesives.

Coming into contact with such strong chemicals around your eyes can be anxiety-inducing, but it’s important to remain calm and remember the following:

  • Only rinse your eyes with lukewarm water; do not use soap, acetone or other solvents to try to encourage the product to dissolve and wash away. This can cause further irritation and make the situation worse.

  • Rinse eyes for at least 15 minutes after contact with superglue.

  • Do not try to force the eye or skin apart if it sticks together, as this can cause an injury or tearing. You may gently rotate your fingers in a circular motion if needed.

Some superglue containers are similar to those of eye ointments, so it’s very important to read labels carefully before putting anything in your eyes.

What will dissolve superglue?

If you get glue or another sticky product in your eye, it can be tempting to try to dissolve it with another product such as acetone. While acetone may help dissolve strong adhesives, it should never be used in or around the eyes. Doing so can be very dangerous for your vision.

Stick to running lukewarm water over the area (without soap), and contact an ophthalmologist immediately for professional treatment if needed.

Can superglue make you go blind?

Medical studies have shown that individuals who have gotten various types of glue in their eye(s) have made full recoveries with the proper treatment. So while your vision and eyes may be affected temporarily, the impact is rarely permanent or vision-threatening.

If you get glue in your eye, it’s important to take the appropriate steps to remove it carefully and appropriately. You should also talk to your eye doctor regarding treatment of any lingering effects, such as irritation, injury and even infection that may occur after the event.

Cosmetic glue and eyelash adhesives

Adhesives used in cosmetic glues such as eyelash and nail glue can also cause irritation if they come into direct contact with the eyes. It is vital to always use products safely and cautiously during application.

Nail glue in your eye

Like superglue, nail glue for faux fingernails can have similar packaging to eye ointment and drops. If you keep both in the same cabinet or drawer, you can risk mistaking one for the other. 

Nail glue is intended to readhere damaged fake fingernails and is designed to cement skin together immediately, which is clearly not ideal for the eyes. If you get nail glue in your eyes, flush them immediately with lukewarm water for five to 15 minutes (as suggested previously) and seek medical help if necessary.

Always wash your hands after handling nail glue and avoid contact with your eyes during use.

Eyelash glue in your eye

Many eyelash adhesives contain an ingredient also found in superglue: cyanoacrylate. This chemical can be harmful to your natural eyelashes if the adhesive is applied wrong, and lashes can sometimes be pulled out by the glue unintentionally.

Fear not if you experience sensitivity to eyelash glue, as there are varieties on the market formulated for sensitive eyes. The best option for you may take time to discover, and performing “patch tests” on another part of your skin can help you in the process.

Aside from sensitivities, eyelash glue can hurt your eyes if it gets into them. Rinse your eyes immediately with lukewarm water for at least five minutes if the glue comes into contact with your eye. 

If irritation does not subside after a thorough rinse, contact your eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment. It’s also best to avoid makeup and false lashes if you injure your eye by getting glue in it until your eye is completely healed. 

SEE RELATED: Can fake eyelashes cause eye infections? 

Recommended practices for eye safety

Taking safety precautions before using or working with adhesives can prevent emergencies related to the eyes.

Eye safety tips while working with glue

  • Wear proper eye protection while working with crafts or other projects that require the use of strong adhesives.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling products that can irritate the eyes, including glue.

  • Don’t touch your eyes while using any kind of glue (other than eyelash adhesive), especially superglue.

  • Supervise children during activities that involve products that can harm their eyes. Teach children about eye safety before they take part in such activities.

  • Store crafting and project glue in an area separate from medical products to prevent any mix-ups during use. 

Eye makeup and lash adhesive safety tips

  • Wash your hands before and after applying eye makeup, especially following glue used for cosmetics.

  • Safely remove all eye makeup, including false eyelash glue completely after use and before going to sleep.

  • Clean fake eyelashes before reapplying them in future use.

  • Store cosmetics you use around your eyes in a cool and dry place to preserve their quality.

  • Keep your eyes closed whenever you apply makeup and false lashes.

  • Only use makeup and other cosmetic products that are safe for use around the eyes.

  • Always read the ingredients on your eyelash adhesive before application. If you are sensitive or allergic to an ingredient, avoid the product.

  • If you have eyelash extensions, have them removed or replaced regularly to prevent buildup and other complications.

  • Eyelash extensions should be applied by a certified technician, and safety guidelines should be followed before, during and after they are applied.

  • Avoid wearing makeup if you are recovering from an eye injury, including getting glue in your eye(s).

Treatment and outlook

Getting glue in your eyes is an unfavorable experience, no matter what type of glue is involved. Fortunately, there are treatments to help you make a full recovery. These can include:

  • Rinsing/irrigating eyes to encourage glue removal

  • Trimming the eyelashes to separate lids or remove glue residue

  • Professional removal of the glue by an eye doctor

  • Topical antibiotics

  • Artificial tears to soothe irritated eyes

  • Covering the eye with a gauze patch while it heals

Additional treatment may be needed for extreme cases or cases that involve corneal abrasion, infection or other conditions.

In addition to all outlined safety tips, it’s important to see an eye doctor once a year for a routine eye exam. Doing so allows your doctor to monitor the health of your eyes and vision and keep you seeing clearly.

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Krazy Glue. British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre. Accessed July 2021.

Super Glue. Queensland Government health conditions. November 2017.

Super Glue Safety Data Sheet. Pacer Technology. May 2021.

Super Glue your eyes shut? Relax, it’s not going to be permanent. Consumer Med Safety. Accessed July 2021.

Superglue injuries of the eye. International Journal of Ophthalmology. October 2012.

The risks of eyelash glue for extensions. Missouri Poison Center. May 2021.

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