Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have become all the rage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability has sky-rocketed, and dispensers are available everywhere. Many adults are aware to not touch their eyes after rubbing the sanitizer throughout their hands, but children typically rub their eyes frequently. Some hand sanitizer automatic dispensers are almost eye-level with kids, which sometimes causes them to accidentally spray directly into their young eyes.

The chemical makeup of hand sanitizer can be moderately damaging to the ocular surface due to the elevated alcohol content. Ethanol causes severe discomfort and can kill corneal cells, sometimes requiring a corneal transplant.

A team of researchers using data from the French Poison Control Center (PCC) found a sevenfold increase in French reports of ocular hand sanitizer accidents in children from the same period in 2019.

From May 2020 to August 2020, the number of hand sanitizer eye exposures in public places increased from 14.4 percent to 52.4 percent. In 2020, a total of 16 children were hospitalized. Ten boys had a mean age of three-and-a-half years in 2020, while one 16-month-old boy was admitted in 2019.

Total hand sanitizer incidents in 2020:

  • 16 children were admitted to the hospital
  • Eight children developed a corneal or conjunctival ulcer
  • Six patients’ corneal ulcers involved over 50 percent of the corneal surface
  • Two children required amniotic membrane transplants

Hand sanitization and disinfection are crucial for public health. However, these findings insinuate health authorities need to ensure hand sanitizer stations are being used properly. The public should be warned about proper usage and safety concerning young children and the dangers of hand sanitizer.

Rohr Eye & Laser Center offers the most advanced technology available to provide personalized and extraordinary care to our patients. Whether your goal is to maintain or improve your natural vision, we are here to help you. Call us at 877-579-0202 or visit to schedule an appointment today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems:

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