Over a 17-year period, poison control centers in the United States received approximately two reports of household cleaning product-related ocular exposures every hour, a study in Eye reports. Although the annual number and rate of incidents has declined, exposure still remained high, especially in young children, underscoring the need for additional prevention efforts, the researchers note.

A team analyzed ocular exposure associated with household cleaning products from the National Poison Data System from 2000 through 2016. During the study period, poison control centers in the US received 319,508 calls for household cleaning product-related ocular incidents, or 18,795 exposures annually. The study found a sharp decrease of 28.8% in the annual number of exposures during the study period, although researchers commented that the results were still high.

The rate of exposures per 100,000 US residents was highest in two-year-olds at 62.8, followed by 28.4 in children under six, 4.8 in kids aged six to 12, 4.2 in teenagers and 4.2 in adults.

The most common non-miscellaneous product subcategories associated with ocular exposures were bleaches (25.9%), wall/floor/tile cleaners (13.4%), disinfectants (10.8%), laundry detergents (6.1%) and glass cleaners (5.3%). The product subcategories associated with the greatest proportion of major medical outcomes were drain cleaners (1.4%), oven cleaners (1.1%) and automatic dishwasher detergents (0.4%).

Contrary to the overall trend, ocular exposures to laundry detergent packets have increased significantly and merit special preventive action, the researchers said. 

Kamboj A, Spiller HA, Casavant MJ, et al. Household cleaning product-related ocular exposures reported to the United States poison control centers. Eye (Lond). December 9, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].