Tear Gas Exposure & Your Eyes

Jun 04, 2020

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Tear Gas Exposure & Your Eyes

The eyes may be the most sensitive organ when exposed to tear gas or pepper spray. Individuals may experience one or more of the following symptoms: red eyes, watery eyes, eyelid spasms, burning sensation and blurry vision.

If there is a possibility that you or someone you know may come into contact with tear gas or pepper spray, please use the following precautions or eye health tips:

1) Either avoid wearing contact lenses or remove contact lenses immediately upon exposure. Contact lenses can absorb the chemicals and cause unwanted ocular symptoms. 

2) Consider wearing eye protection (i.e. sealed, impact-resistant lab or ski goggles) to block the irritatants from enter your eyes.

3) Resist the urge to rub or touch your eyes with contaminated hands.

4) The action of blinking repeatedly allows your tear film to assist in clearing some of the irritants from the ocular surface.

5) Wash or flush the eyes with a steady stream of water or saline rinse to effectively dilute, dislodge and remove the chemicals from your eyes. 

6) Seek medical care if ocular pain or vision does not improve within 1 hour.

Caution: Long-term or intense exposure to tear gas or pepper spray may lead to scarring, glaucoma or cataracts.

Reference: https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/riotcontrol/factsheet.asp