The vast majority of substances that get trapped in the eye and can cause burns do not have the ability to cause serious eye problems. These items include soaps, shampoos, and perfumes and only require that the eye be flushed immediately with water. Once the eye has been flushed, it might be a bit painful or irritated but these symptoms should go away quickly.
There are more serious burns that can be caused by chemicals as well. Chemical burns can occur when a solid chemical, liquid chemical, or even fumes get into the eye. Acids and alkali (base) substances are easily able to damage the eye. Once the substance gets into the eye, it can take up to 24 hours to determine the seriousness or severity of an eye burn. In addition to burning the eye, chemical fumes and vapors can cause irritation and discomfort.
Heat-based burns to the eyelid or eye can also cause eye problems. Blasts of hot air or steam can burn the face and eyes much like they are capable of burning other areas of skin. Bursts of flames or flash fires from stoves or explosives can also burn the face and eyes. The eyelids are also capable of being burned.
When the eyes are not protected by a mask or ultraviolet (UV) filtering sunglasses, they can be burned by exposure to the high-intensity light of a welder’s torch or arc or even by bright sunlight. The sun can burn the eyes particularly easily when it is reflecting off of snow or water. The eyes can also be burned by bright lights like those from tanning booths or sunlamps. Just like in the event of a chemical burn, it may take up to a day for the true extent of an injury to be known.
Like all eye injuries, it is possible for a burn to the eye to become infected.