In the past month alone, Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem treated three children who sustained serious injuries as a result of Alcogel getting into their eyes.
One of the children treated at Shaarei Tzedek was lightly injured, the second was moderately injured and the third, a four-year-old boy, suffered serious damage after a large amount of Alcogel was sprayed in his left eye when he was at pre-school, resulting in serious injury to his cornea and inflammation that almost led to blindness.
He was hospitalized for two weeks, during which he was regularly sedated in order for his eye to be thoroughly cleaned and treated. He has been released but is still being monitored on an outpatient basis, and fortunately, doctors do not anticipate permanent damage to his vision.
“The alcohol in household disinfectants kills viruses just like it destroys other cells,” said Dr. Yishai Weil, a senior ophthalmologist at the Corneal Unit at Shaare Tzedek. “If the substance damages the external part of the eye, it damages the proteins and cells, and in the case of a serious infection of the eye or inflammation, it can lead to blindness. In addition, damage to the stem cells of the cornea can cause cloudiness, blood vessel growth across the cornea, and severe damage to vision. ”
Dr. Weil provided a tip that can thwart the risk of injury from Alcogel. “We have to remember that when we place Alcogel at home at a comfortable height for adults to wash their hands, that height is more or less the height of children’s heads. And therefore when a child approaches [the sink] to disinfect his hands and turns the spout [of the Alcogel] towards him, he’s at risk of the liquid spraying on him, especially his eyes. The risk to the eye in a direct injury such as this is is extremely high.”
“In order to prevent this type of injury, it’s necessary to increase awareness among parents that hand sanitizers should be kept out of the reach of children to the same extent that household cleansers are kept away from them. Also, it is advisable to purchase hand sanitizers with a downward-pointing spout so that if even the substance is sprayed, it will spray downwards on the floor and not toward the child’s face.”
Dr. Weil added that speedy and proper management of chemical damage to the eyes in general can be the difference between a child who recovers without lasting damage to his vision and a child who loses vision. He recommends that if a child in your care has a chemical substance enter their eye(s), rinse the child’s eyes thoroughly with tap water for at least twenty minutes, before leaving to the emergency room.
The father of the severely injured four-year-old said: “The nursery teacher called us and told us that he seemed to be in a lot of pain after an alcoholic disinfectant that is regularly used in the kindergarten was sprayed in his eye.”
“I asked the teacher to wash his eyes, but she called me back saying that he hadn’t calmed down. At the end I went to the pre-school in order to calm him down, not even considering that his vision was in danger.”
“He wouldn’t stop crying and when we got home and I looked at his eye, my heart dropped. His lower eyelid has swelled and I couldn’t even see his eye. I never imagined that this innocent substance could lead to such extensive damage.”
“We went to the emergency room, where they sedated him and thoroughly rinsed his eye. They repeated this treatment over two weeks while he was hospitalized in the pediatric ward. He’ll need drops put into his eyes for the near future, but thank G-d his vision has been saved. We are grateful to the staff who treated him immediately and professionally.”
His message to parents: “I would like to warn all parents and pre-school teachers. It seems like an innocent substance that is accessible to everyone without any warnings on it, but in one moment it can cause loss of vision in children and tremendous damage.”
It should also be noted that Alcogel is dangerous if ingested by mouth as well. Recent data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) shows that the number of poison control calls related to hand sanitizer products has increased by 70% between Jan. 1 and Aug. 2. Over 12,000 of the cases involved children age 5 or younger.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)