How to Open an Eye that is Superglued Shut

17 Aug

Cyanoacrylate may contact the eye due to inadvertent administration of superglue instead of eyedrops, rubbing eyes with contaminated hands, or splashing glue into eyes.

Chemical injury is minimal – in fact, ophthalmologists occasionally use cyanoacrylate for intentional tarsorrhaphy and sealing perforated corneal ulcers

Mechanical injury can be significant – from constant movement of eye against fixed foreign body between lids.

Corneal abrasions, eyelash loss, eyelid skin excoriation, or conjunctival inflammation may occur

Irrigate first with room temperature water for 15 minutes

•Rosen’s recommends Ophthalmology consult

•If lids are glued shut, attempt to pull eyelids apart gently

Do not apply substances to dissolve the glue(although gauze soaked in mineral oil and shur-cleans have been reported to work)

•If lids cannot be pulled apart but are aligned normally, and pain is minimal, patient may be discharged. The glue is expected to dissolve over about a week

If the lids are inverted, surgical intervention may be required

Consider discharging with antibiotic ointment for presumed corneal abrasion if full eye exam is not possible.

Submitted by M. Smith.


Reference(s): Lyons C Stevens J, Bloom J. Superglue inadvertently used as eyedrops. BMJ 1990; 300:328; Margo CE, Trobe JD. Tarsorrhaphy from accidental instillation of cyanoacrylate adhesive in the eye. JAMA 1982; 247:660-661; Sharma R, Brunette DD. “Chapter 69: Ophthalmology: Ocular Trauma.” in Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, Concepts and Clinical Practice, 7th ed. Marx et al, eds. 2009, Mosby.;

Poisindex: Cyanoacrylates – Super glue.; picture
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