Can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?
In this brief guide, we’ll address the query “Can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?” We’ll also explore how apple cider vinegar can hurt a person’s eyes, why some people apply apple cider vinegar to their eyes, and what to do if apple vinegar gets in your eyes.
Can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?
Yes, apple cider vinegar can absolutely hurt a person’s eyes, if it is not quickly rinsed or is purposely applied to achieve some “remedying” effect. If left for a long period, it may result in severe pain and even loss (to some degree) of sight.
In fact, purposely applying apple cider vinegar to one’s eyes may constitute a medical emergency, and is listed in poison control guidelines as a serious event that may require immediate medical attention.
Vinegar routinely produces only minor ocular damage unless contact is prolonged. Consequences of typical exposures include immediate pain, conjunctival hyperemia, and mild, reversible injury to the cornea. (1, 2)
How can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?
Acetic acid, which is present in apple cider vinegar, can inflict caustic burns on the eyes and damage the corneas (which are the transparent lens that covers the iris and pupil), and the sclera (the white layer that covers the eyeball).
Acetic acid typically requires concentrations greater than 10% to cause severe injury. More dilute acetic acid concentrations, however, may produce significant ocular injury after very prolonged contact.
In the odd event that a large splash of apple cider vinegar finds its way to a person’s eyes, and if it isn’t immediately rinsed. It may cause lesions that could eventually lead to scarring and reduced eyesight, as the scar tissue may distort the perception of light. (1, 3)
Why would one apply apple cider vinegar to their eyes?
If not by accident, then likely because apple cider vinegar is at the center of many reputed (but not necessarily proven) home remedies, due to its antimicrobial properties and perceived health benefits.
On some websites and forums, it is erroneously touted as a treatment for cataracts, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and other eye infections, but there are no studies that maintain this is proper or safe use.
On the contrary, applying apple cider vinegar to one’s eyes may result in abrasions and scarring that can distort a person’s sight.
Also, as it is perceived by some to be a natural remedy for skin issues such as Nevis (moles), warts, and other blemishes, some folks may be tempted to apply drops onto their eyelids, to treat the aforementioned oddities. (2, 4)
What should I do if I get apple cider vinegar in my eyes?
The first step is to immediately rinse out the eye (or both, if necessary) with running water. If done immediately, the chances of suffering burns are quite low. Acetic acid is a relatively weak acid, but if left to sit for a while, may cause burns on the eyes.
If the apple cider vinegar, however, was left to sit over a person’s eyes, and they sustained burns, it may be necessary to call poison control or merit a visit to a doctor, who will determine the extent of the damage and decide with what treatment to proceed.
Maintaining one’s eyes closed after suffering burns may worsen the pain, but once it has subsided and after plentiful washing and rinsing with water, one may have to visit the ER to have the damage reviewed.
Severe chemical burns to the eyes may lead to decreased vision or even blindness, and they should not be nursed at home, let alone with home remedies. (1, 3, 5)
In this brief guide, we have addressed the query “Can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?” We’ve also explored how apple cider vinegar can hurt a person’s eyes, why some people apply apple cider vinegar to their eyes, and what to do if apple vinegar gets into your eyes.
- ANGELA C. ANDERSON, Chapter 15 – Ocular Toxicology,Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose (Fourth Edition), W.B. Saunders, 301-315, 2007.
- Mary Elizabeth May, Vinegar is not Always Safe Vinegar can cause injury if improperly used. National Capital Poison Center – NCPC.
- Pravasi, S. D. Acetic Acid. Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 33–35. 2014.
- Scott Frothingham, Should I Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Pink Eye? Healthline Media LLC. 2020.
- Lisa Fields, Whitney Seltman, Eye Burn: How to Treat It. WebMD LLC, 2021